Asbel Kiprop was wrongly given advance warning of a drug test that he failed, but there was no sample tampering and the Kenyan runner was not offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt by the Athletics Integrity Unit, the sport’s doping watchdog said Friday.
Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m gold medalist and three-time world champion, said Thursday he was the victim of extortion and denied doping but confirmed he tested positive for EPO on Nov. 27. The Athletics Integrity Unit did not comment on the extortion claim in a Friday press release.
“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 and lawyer 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 Athletics Integrity Unit, the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied some of Kiprop’s claims of impropriety but confirmed one of them: that Kiprop was given advance notice of a drug test that was supposed to be a surprise.
“This is extremely disappointing,” the Athletics Integrity Unit said Friday. “The advanced notice of testing given by the doping control assistant could not reasonably have caused EPO to be present in Mr. Kiprop’s sample and, as such, the departure does not invalidate the adverse analytical finding. This will ultimately be a matter for the tribunal to determine.”
Kiprop was informed he failed the tests on Feb. 3 and Feb. 20 (A and B samples) and charged with violations March 16, but the case has not been resolved by a disciplinary tribunal.
“I pray to be given the benefit of doubt even as I am cast into this lonely isolation,” said Kiprop, who has no other publicly announced 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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