Rhonex Kipruto handed six years ban, stripped off 10km world record

Thursday June 06 2024

Kenyan athlete Rhonex Kipruto. PHOTO | REUTERS


Kenyan athlete Rhonex Kipruto will lose his 2019 world 10,000m bronze medal and the 10km world record from 2020 after he was handed a six-year ban for doping.

Kipruto’s result from September 2018 will henceforth be expunged and will only remain with the world under-20 10,000m title from July 2018 in Tampere, Finland.

Kipruto’s ban came a day after the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) provisionally suspended 33 Kenyan athletes for various doping offences.

It also came nine days after Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) also banned Kenya’s Josephine Chepkoech for seven years as a repeat offender and for the use of a prohibited substance Testosterone.

Chepkoech, 35, could have been given eight years as a repeat offender, having been suspended back in 2012 but AIU reduced the sentence by one year after admission of the offence.

Read: Kenyan athlete suspended over doping


The AIU moved swiftly to effect the tough sanction against the 24-year-old promising distance athlete after a Disciplinary Tribunal threw away his appeal and ruled that there were irregularities in his Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) resulting from doping.

Kipruto was provisionally suspended on May 11, last year for violating the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (ADR) after irregularities were detected in his ABP dating back to July 2018.

He is now banned until May 10, 2029, and will have some top honours disqualified.

However, Kipruto has the liberty to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

A statement from AIU indicated that after considering submissions from experts, the tribunal rejected Kipruto’s defence, concluding the “cause for the abnormalities in the ABP is more likely to be due to blood manipulation” such as through the use of recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO).

The tribunal, made up of Tanja Haug (Chairman), Sentodji Roland Adjovi and Julien Berenger, ruled that Kipruto was involved in a deliberate and sophisticated doping regime over a long period of time in order to artificially enhance his performance through doping.

“Several abnormalities found in the Athlete’s ABP were linked to important competitions including the Valencia Half Marathon in 2020 and Kenyan Olympic trials in 2021,” the tribunal said.

The statement explained that blood doping outside of competitions can also be used to gain an advantage as it permits more intense training and this has an obvious effect on performance even after a significant period of time.

“This is corroborated by the fact that in recent years many athletes have been found positive for EPO far outside of competition,” said the tribunal.

Following the ban, Kipruto's 10km road-running world record in Valencia in 2020; 10,000m bronze medal in the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha and 10,000m victory in the 2019 Stockholm Diamond League, among many other honours, will now be annulled.

“The ABP is a critical tool in the quest to combat doping in elite athletes and this decision upholds important principles relating to ABP cases,” said AIU Head Brett Clothier.

Clothier said it can be difficult to directly detect the substances or methods used by sophisticated dopers, but the ABP gives them a chance to observe the telltale signs of blood doping over time.

For this reason, Clothier said AIU conducted more than 4,700 ABP tests in 2023 on elite athletes and that they will continue to invest heavily in our ABP programme going forward.

The ABP, introduced in 2009 to fight blood doping, is an electronic record that collects an athlete’s biological data over time to indirectly detect the effects of doping.