Nairobi (AFP) – Athletics Kenya on Thursday refused to confirm or deny reports claiming former Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop failed an out-of-competition drug test.
Unconfirmed media reports on Wednesday claimed the 28-year-old Kiprop, a three-time world champion, had tested positive for the endurance-boosting drug EPO (erythropoietin).
The athlete vehemently denied the allegations.
“WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) protocol is strict on such matters. It’s prudent to approach this issue with caution as it’s not really conclusive as we speak,” Barnabas Korir, a top Athletics Kenya (AK) executive committee member said.
“The process to determine the allegations is ongoing and it takes time. AK at this moment cannot confirm or deny the same.”
It would be a serious blow to Kenyan athletics if it is confirmed that 28-year-old Kiprop, one of the biggest names in the country’s stellar cast of middle-distance athletes, has tested positive for the endurance-enhancing drug.
Kiprop originally came second in the 1500m final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but was upgraded when Rashid Ramzi tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and was stripped of the gold medal.
The athlete, writing in the official Athletics Kenya Whatsapp group, vowed to clear his name.
“I have read the reports linking me to doping,” Kiprop said.
“As an athlete, I have been at the forefront of the fight against doping in Kenya — a fight I strongly believe in and support. I would not want to ruin all what I have worked for since 2007. I hope I can prove that I am a clean athlete in every way possible.”
It was unclear whether Kiprop, who is managed by the Italian Rosa and Associati management group, will be able to run in the season’s opening IAAF Diamond League race in Doha on Friday.
Kenya has been fighting intense criticism of its anti-doping efforts after more than 40 athletes tested positive over the past five years.
Three years ago, Kenya was rated “non-compliant” by the WADA before being reinstated prior to the Rio Olympics.