10km world record holder Rhonex Kipruto banned for doping

Wednesday May 17 2023
rhonex kipruto

Kenyan athlete Rhonex Kipruto reacts after crossing the finish line to win the men's 10,000m race during the IAAF Diamond League competition on May 30, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. PHOTO | FREDRICK SANDBERG | AFP


Kenya's 10 kilometres road race world record holder Rhonex Kipruto became the latest Kenyan athlete to be suspended for a doping offence on Wednesday by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The AIU said the 23-year-old -- who won 10,000 metres bronze in the 2019 World Championships -- had been "provisionally suspended" for the "use of a prohibited substance/method (ABP)".

The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) can show discrepancies that can reveal the effects of doping.

Kipruto set the 10km record of 26 minutes 24 seconds in Valencia in 2020 -- he finished a disappointing ninth in the 10,000m at the Olympics in 2021.

Close on 70 Kenyan athletes -- mainly distance runners -- have been banned in the last five years for drugs offences in a crisis that has tarnished the East African track and field powerhouse.

In March, AIU head Brett Clothier warned during a visit to Kenya that the international anti-doping body was stepping up its investigations and testing in the country.


Read (from the Archives):  New doping scandal mires Kenyan athletics

The AIU also said in April that Kenyan athletes were being assisted in covering up doping offences by a "medically savvy operation".

Its claims followed an investigation into falsified medical documents from marathon runner Betty Wilson Lempus and 800m specialist Eglay Nalyanya.

Lempus was given a five-year doping ban in January while Nalyanya was suspended this month for eight years for using a prohibited substance.

Kenya’s reaction

Kenya reacted by promising on April 20 it would more than triple annual drug testing of athletes.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba said Kenya was targeting 3,445 tests a year -- compared to the current 1,000 -- for its 37,900 athletes and support personnel.

The plans were unveiled in a report issued by an anti-doping steering committee set up in December 2022 after the government announced it was committing $5 million a year over five years to try to combat drug abuse in the sport.

The committee also announced proposals to beef up its investigation mechanisms and monitoring of athletes with biological passports as well as developing educational programmes.

The body is made up of representatives from Athletics Kenya, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK), the AIU and the Kenyan sports ministry.

Read: Kenya bids to host Diamond League meet

Kipruto rose into limelight in 2018 when he won gold in men's 10,000m at the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, beating Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo with Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia settling for third place.

Kipruto would then graduate into the senior ranks in style, claiming bronze at the Doha Worlds in 2019.

He trains in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County under Bro Colm O’Connel.

In January, ADAK published a list of 20 sportsmen and women they had provisionally suspended for doping rules violation.

The list that had mostly athletes also cut across football, judo and bodybuilding.

They included former Africa and African Games 10,000m champion Alice Aprot, two-time Africa high jump champion Matthew Sawe, the 2021 World mixed shuttle hurdles relay silver medallist Priscilla Tabunda.

Others were 800m athlete Michael Saruni, 2012 Boston Marathon third place finisher Georgina Rono and the 2014 World 4x800m Relay champion Agatha Jeruto.