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Eliud Kipchoge likens next shot at two-hour marathon to moon landing

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Reigning Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, who plans another shot at breaking the two-hour barrier in the event, said Wednesday that the feat would hold a high place in the history of human achievement.

“This is about history and making a mark in sport. It’s like the first man to go to the moon, I will be the first man to run under two hours, this is crucial,” Kipchoge told reporters from his training base in Kaptagat, Kenya. “I’m really excited I’m really looking forward to this historic day.”

Kipchoge holds the official world record of 2:01:39, set in 2018, and he posted a time of 2:00:25 in 2017 on a race track in Monza, Italy. Timed runs under controlled conditions outside of a formal race typically aren’t eligible to be considered as official world records.

The next attempt will take place in Vienna sometime during a window from Oct. 12 to Oct. 20, depending on when the weather is best.

Kipchoge has won 11 of the 12 marathons he has entered, dating back to 2013. His 2016 Olympic gold finished a hat trick of medals that included bronze in the 5,000 meters in 2004 and silver in the same event in 2008.

Breaking the two-hour mark would require a pace of 4:35 per mile.

The official and unofficial record-holder struck a confident tone on Wednesday.

““I was like a boxer who is going in the ring (in 2017) and doesn’t know what will happen,” he said. “But this time I am prepared, and I know what will happen.”

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Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2-hour marathon attempt moved out of London

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Eliud Kipchoge‘s second attempt to become the first runner to break two hours in the marathon this fall will not take place in London.

The attempt, organized by British chemicals group INEOS, will instead be in Vienna on Oct. 12 with a reserve window of eight days through Oct. 20 in case of adverse weather.

The first announcement on May 5 called for the special race to take place in London.

Experts since chose The Prater, a historic park in central Vienna, for its ideal weather conditions and long stretch of flat road called the Hauptallee. It is nearly a six-mile circuit to create a multi-lap course that is 90 percent straight.

The venue also provides more capacity for large crowds, something missing from Kipchoge’s previous sub-two attempt at a Formula One course in Monza, Italy, in 2017. Kipchoge clocked 2:00:25 there in non-record-eligible conditions.

Like Monza, the Vienna bid is being set up to have pacers come in and out of the event, making it non-record eligible.

Kipchoge, 34, may still be peaking as a marathoner. In his last two marathons, he ran the two fastest record-eligible times in history: 2:01:39 in Berlin on Sept. 16 and 2:02:37 in London on April 28.

Next summer, he can become the third runner to repeat as Olympic marathon champion.

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MORE: U.S. marathon rankings ahead of Olympic trials

Kenya’s Olympic track coach banned 10 years

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The Kenyan track team coach who was sent home from the Rio Olympics was banned for 10 years Wednesday for seeking a bribe of $12,000 to help athletes beat doping tests.

Michael Rotich was banned by the IAAF ethics board following a three-year investigation prompted by an undercover sting by British newspaper The Sunday Times. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $14,000 in procedural costs.

In video footage released by the newspaper during the Rio Games, Rotich asked undercover reporters for the money to help a group of British runners dope with EPO and get away with it in the region in Kenya where he was the senior track official. To do that, he would give them advance notice of any drug tests.

“When I have interest, I will be able to find ways and means of doing that,” Rotich told the reporters.

The undercover reporters were posing as the coach and manager of a fictional group of athletes and no doping took place.

But the video was released following a series of Kenyan doping and corruption scandals involving high-profile athletes and senior officials.

Rotich was filmed alongside another Kenyan, a man identified as Joseph Mwangi, who said he could provide the banned blood-boosting substance EPO to the athletes once they were in Kenya.

Three videos were recorded of Rotich meeting the undercover reporters in January and February 2016.

In them, Rotich said he could use his influence in the famous high-altitude training region in Kenya’s Rift Valley to find out if and when doping control officers were planning to test the visiting British athletes.

Rotich told the undercover reporters that he knew the local drug testers and would say to them: “I am in charge of the region. Would you mind from time to time let me know if you are coming to test our own athletes or international athletes?”

Rotich said he was confident the testers would comply and he could give the British athletes 12 hours’ notice of any tests, allowing them to try to flush any banned substances out of their systems. Out-of-competition doping tests are meant to surprise athletes so they can’t take any action to avoid detection.

In his IAAF case, Rotich claimed he was only gathering information on corruption to take to authorities. That defense was rejected by the three-member ethics panel.

Although Rotich’s actions didn’t lead to any doping or cover-ups, the presence of advance notice of tests in Kenya came under more scrutiny in the case of 2008 Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop.

Kiprop admitted that he had been given advance notice of a doping test in Kenya in late 2017. Kiprop also admitted paying the doping control officer a small amount of money, which he suggested was common in Kenya. Kiprop tested positive for EPO and was banned four years.

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