Asbel Kiprop claims extortion, denies doping after positive drug test

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Kenyan runner Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m gold medalist and three-time world champion, said he was the victim of extortion and denied doping Thursday, one day after reports surfaced he tested positive for the banned substance EPO.

“I remain perplexed on how my innocent sample could turn positive on the only time when money was extorted from me,” was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page and confirmed by Kiprop’s agent in an email as being the Kenyan’s words. “It is not beyond my suspicion that my sample turned positive because I might have remitted less money than I was expected to remit.

“I have been asked to admit that I doped so that I would be made an ambassador of I.A.A.F [track and field’s international governing body] on anti-doping. I have refused, as this is not only untrue but also a fraud. I do not need absolution on the allegations.”

The IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, the Athletics Integrity Unit, has not responded to a request for comment.

Kiprop said he was informed Feb. 3 that he failed a Nov. 27 drug test.

“I pray to be given the benefit of doubt even as I am cast into this lonely isolation,” was posted on the Facebook page of Kiprop, who has no other publicly announed failed drug tests in a decade of elite racing. “I know it may be impossible to defend myself from any accuser who has made up his mind and who would view my protestations as a mere denial.”

Kiprop, 28, has been the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade. At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

“So many emotions running thru me regarding the Kiprop news,” was posted on Centrowitz’s Instagram story Wednesday. “So much I wanna say. Best I collect my thoughts/emotions on this flight & speak on it later.”

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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