May 4, 2018 / 7:19 AM / 20 days ago

Athletics: AIU confirms Kiprop positive test, rejects allegations

LONDON (Reuters) - The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) confirmed on Friday that former world 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop had tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO and rejected some of the extraordinary allegations the Kenyan made against officials.

FILE PHOTO: Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, gold medal, poses on the podium after the men's 1500m event during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, August 30, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files

Kiprop said on Thursday in lengthy statement that his doping sample might have been tampered with by testers who not only tipped him off about their visit in November last year but also took a payment from him.

The AIU, an independent body that manages all doping- related matters for athletics, conceded on Friday that he had been given advanced notice but that it was satisfied there had been no interference with his sample.

“In the course of these proceedings, Mr Kiprop has made a number of public allegations in relation to the sample collection process,” read a statement.

“These allegations have been investigated by the AIU. The AIU is satisfied that there has been no mix up or tampering with the sample.”

Kiprop’s case is now with an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) disciplinary tribunal and the 28-year-old faces a ban of four years from the sport if found guilty of doping.

Among the more claims made by Kiprop, a senior police officer, was that he paid the testers an unspecified amount of money and did not consider it untoward.

“I did not at the time expect that the request for the money had anything to do with the sample,” Kiprop said in the statement.

“At that time I did not see the money as inducement or bribe for anything. I gave it in good faith thinking they may have some need known to them. In retrospect, I now clearly see the money as having a relation with the sample collected on that date, and even the irregular advance notice I was given.”

“AMBASSADOR ROLE”

The AIU statement did not address that allegation but said it had been “extremely disappointing” to discover Kiprop had been told when the test was to take place.

“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 (test),” it added.

“This will ultimately be a matter for the tribunal to determine.”

Kiprop said the testers suggested he admit to doping so that he could be given an “ambassador role” with the IAAF - an allegation the AIU flatly rejected.

“Prior to the commencement of the disciplinary proceedings AIU investigators met with Mr Kiprop ... to give him the opportunity to admit any offence promptly or to provide information about doping in athletics that could amount to ‘substantial assistance’,” it read.

“This is standard practice (and) any suggestion that there was anything improper about this conversation is categorically untrue.”

Kiprop was informed of the failed test in February.

“I am the last person to commit such an atrocious un-sports like thing,” he said, adding that he was perplexed how his “innocent sample turned positive”.

As part of IAAF head Sebastian Coe’s reforms of the governing body, doping matters have been dealt with by AIU since April last year.

Kiprop, the third-fastest man in history over 1,500 metres, was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and promoted to Olympic gold at the 2008 Games after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi tested positive for doping.

Kiprop’s is the latest in a long line of doping cases in Kenya, where around 50 athletes have failed tests in recent years, including three-times Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo and Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong.

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, additional reporting by Isaack Omolu and Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond/Amlan Chakraborty

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