Former world marathon record holder, Wilson Kipsang was carelessly ridding off into the sunset years of his career as a road runner before accusations of doping caught up with him.
The 37-year-old Kipsang, who has been accused and found guilty for ‘whereabouts failures and tampering of facts’ was slapped with a four-year ban from active competition on Friday.
However, Kipsang has maintained that he is clean, as no prohibited substance has been found in his sample and that the failure to report his whereabouts and missing three tests should not be construed to mean he doped.
“I have never used performance-enhancing drugs in my career. None was found in my samples and I have gone through a lot of doping controls and none has been found positive,” Kipsang said from Iten on Saturday.
But, he noted, he is being used as a sacrificial lamb because nobody emerges from the tug of war without their good name sullied, except, perhaps, the individual at the centre of it all.
“Athletics is in my heart, and when something, or someone, has a special place in there, one can overlook their faults,” he said.
His ban now brings the number of Kenyans banned or suspended to 54. These athletes have been sanctioned by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for their roles in aiding cheating in the sport and are currently serving bans for the violation of anti-doping rules.
As a former world record holder, a two-time London marathon winner and champion of the Berlin marathon, Kipsang is among the well-known athletes on the list of cheats alongside Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong, three-time world 1,500m winner Asbel Kiprop and Rita Jeptoo, a former Boston and Chicago marathon champion.
Kipsang’s management, Volare Sports, says they will appeal the decision.
“We will study and analyze the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal and consider further legal steps. Pending this process we will not communicate anything more about it,” Volare Sport replied.
“Volare Sports and Wilson strongly believe in a clean sport and support anti-doping measures 100 percent. We emphasize that there is no case of the use of doping. No prohibited substance was ever found,” it added.
Olympic javelin silver medalists and Africa champion Julius Yego said he is worried by the high profile athletes being nabbed for doping offenses and wants the runners to seize the moment, be careful against doping and focus on hard work so as to win clean.
“After all is said and done, it will always be the athletes themselves who will save their own careers by opting to stick to the rules and regulations governing the sport to avoid doping,” Yego said.
Kipsang will probably opt to retire and move into a different career, following the likes of Jeptoo and Sumgong.
At 37, four years will see him return to action in 2024, too late for him perhaps to launch a spirited challenge at the Paris Olympics.
However, he will still have a chance to compete in the master’s category and redeem his image and career once more.
For now, the AIU has put their foot down and ordered the Kenyan’s ban to be effective from Jan. 10, 2020, the date when he was provisionally suspended.
Under anti-doping regulations, athletes have to inform testing authorities of their whereabouts for a one-hour window every day and three failures – not being present at the said time – within 12 months leads to an automatic ban.
The AIU found that Kipsang had committed a total of four missed tests or filing failures, including a missed test on April 27, 2018, a filing failure related to the athlete’s whereabouts information provided for Jan. 18, 2019.
He also missed a test on April 12, 2019 followed by another missed test a month later.
Kipsang has the opportunity to appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Enditem