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Wilson Kipsang, former marathon world-record holder, banned 4 years

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Wilson Kipsang, a former marathon world-record holder and Kenyan Olympic bronze medalist, was banned four years for whereabouts failures — not being available for drug testing — and providing false evidence in his case.

Kipsang had been provisionally banned in January in the case handled by the Athletics Integrity Unit, track and field’s doping watchdog organization. Athletes must provide doping officials with locations to be available for out-of-competition testing. Three missed tests in a 12-month span can lead to a suspension.

Kipsang, 38, received a four-year ban backdated to Jan. 10, when the provisional suspension was announced. His results since April 12, 2019, the date of his third whereabouts failure in a 12-month span, have been annulled. He is eligible to appeal. The full decision is here.

Kipsang won major marathons in New York City, London, Berlin and Tokyo between 2012 and 2017.

He lowered the world record to 2:03:23 at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, a mark that stood for one year until countryman Dennis Kimetto took it to 2:02:57 in Berlin. Another Kenyan, Eliud Kipchoge, lowered it to 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

Kipsang, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, last won a top-level marathon in Tokyo in 2017. He was third at the 2018 Berlin Marathon and 12th at his last marathon in London in April 2019, a result now disqualified.

Other Kenyan distance-running stars have been banned in recent years.

Rita Jeptoo had Boston and Chicago Marathon titles stripped, and Jemima Sumgong was banned after winning the Rio Olympic marathon after both tested positive for EPO. Asbel Kiprop, a 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017.

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Pyambuu Tuul: A courageous Olympic story worth revisiting

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The moving personal stories of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics began with the cauldron lighter, Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo, who limped from polio contracted at age 8. The Games ended with another triumphant athlete.

Mongolian Pyambuu Tuul was the very last person to compete at those Olympics. Tuul was 87th of 87 finishers of the men’s marathon, jogging in thick glasses and a T-shirt. It took him 4 hours, 44 seconds, which marked the slowest Olympic marathon time since the 1908 London Games. He finished almost an hour after the 86th-place runner.

The marathon, traditionally held on the final day of the Olympics, usually ends in the Olympic Stadium with preparations under way for that night’s Closing Ceremony. Tuul, 33, had to finish on a practice track outside the stadium, as it was approaching 10:30 local time and the ceremony already happening.

Turns out, Tuul was blind for 12 years from 1978-90 after a pump exploded while he worked construction in Mongolia. Operations in Mongolia and the Soviet Union, hoping to restore his sight, were unsuccessful.

“The first two years [after the accident] was the most difficult period,” Tuul said before the Olympic marathon, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was very unhappy. Angry. Always depressed. Because I could see at one time, though, it helped me in my orientation.”

Then the Achilles Track Club, a New York-based group that supports disabled runners, found and invited him to run the 1990 New York City Marathon with a guide. The group also set him up with the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. A January 1991 cornea transplant brought back partial vision in his right eye. He was able to see his wife and 6- and 8-year-old daughters for the first time, according to El Pais.

“When the bandages were removed, the first thing I saw were blue eyes [the doctor’s],” Tuul said, according to the AJC. “I could see a nose, a face. As the days went on, my focus got better and better. I see very good now.”

On that night in Barcelona, officials applauded Tuul as he came to a stop on the practice track, hands on knees in exhaustion.

“It is most important for me to participate, not win or finish high,” Tuul reportedly said. “I want to show that a man has many possibilities.”

Attempts to find an update on Tuul this spring, through the Mongolian National Olympic Committee, Achilles’ Mongolia chapter and the New York doctor who reportedly performed his operation, John Seedor, were unsuccessful.

MORE: Javelin thrower runs marathon in backyard garden, raises $30,000

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Boston Marathon canceled for first time after 123 years; virtual event planned

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The Boston Marathon, held every year since 1897, has been canceled as an in-person event for the first time. It will be held as a virtual race instead due to the coronavirus.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Boston Athletic Association (BAA) CEO Tom Grilk said in a press release.

The world’s oldest annual marathon had been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14, it was announced March 13.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he first considered canceling the postponed marathon during a coronavirus surge in April.

“We were maxed out in our hospital emergency rooms,” Walsh said Thursday. “I realized that the downside of the curve, which we were on, the backside of the curve, is going to be going for some time. The concern of a second surge made me have some real reservations about can we have the marathon or not.”

Walsh said experts said a potential second surge would be between August and October. He held out hope to hold the race until talking with the BAA last week.

All participants originally registered for Boston will be offered a full refund of their entry fee and have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative, which can be run between Sept. 7-14.

More details, including entry information, will be announced in the coming weeks.

It’s the biggest alteration to the Boston Marathon, which was inspired by the marathon’s debut at the first modern Olympics in 1896. Previously, the biggest change came in 1918, the last year of World War I. The marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day in April but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. It was rescheduled from April 27 to Oct. 4. Its original fields for April were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele. It’s unknown if they will remain in the field, should London happen.

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 7-14 (virtual event)
Berlin — TBD (will not be held as planned on Sept. 27)
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

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