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Sports

Two Kenyan athletes banned over doping offences

media Kenya's deputy president William Ruto says he wants to bring in new laws to crack down on Kenyan drugs cheats. Reuters/Noor Khamis/Files

Two Kenyan athletes have been suspended for taking illicit drugs, the country's athletics federation announced on Friday. The latest bans come less than two months after two Kenyans were thrown out of the world athletics championships in Beijing for using banned substances.

Athletics Kenya slapped bans on two drugs cheats on Friday after they were caught using the anabolic steroid Nandrosterone.

The 800m runner Agatha Jeruto and marathon runner Josephine Jepkorir tested positive for the drug during checks carried out by officials from the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Jeruto, 21, tested positive for the drug in an out-of-competition check in Kenya in April, and has been banned for four years.

Jepkorir, 26, was caught cheating during a 10km road race in Luanda, Angola. She has been ordered off the track for two years.

Athletics Kenya said the result of the Luanda race, which Jepkorir won, and February's Ras Al Khaimah International half marathon in the United Arab Emirates, where she was fourth, had been cancelled.

"The athlete will forfeit all titles, awards, medals, points, prize and appearance money from these races," Athletics Kenya said in a statement on Friday.

The news comes when two other women athletes, Koki Manunga, 21, and Joyce Zakary, 29, are awaiting suspensions from the IAAF after they failed drug tests during the world championships in Beijing in August.

When she ran in the heats of the 400 metres at the meeting, Zakary set a Kenyan national record of 50.71 seconds. The time took her to the semi-finals but she pulled out. Manunga finished sixth in her heat of the 400m hurdles after clocking 58.96 seconds.

The two women are among 15 Kenyans serving suspensions for doping offences and their decison to skirt with illegal substances highlight what is believed to be a serious problem in a country where success in athletics is regarded as a path to wealth and fame.

The suspensions cast a pall over what should have been consecutive days of celebration for Kenyans at the world championships.

The day before Manunga and Zakary's shame was exposed, Nicholas Bett and David Rudisha won golds in the men’s 400 metres hurdles and the 800 metres respectively. On the day of the drugs revelations, Julius Yego became the first man from the country to win the javelin title at the world championships and Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi clamed the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase.

Yego, 26, said at the time: “I really don’t want to dwell on the tests too much. It’s a shame,” he said. “I always believe you can win clean so it’s a shame for them. I really don’t want to say much more about it but it’s not good.”

The suspensions led to government action. Kenya's deputy president William Ruto said that laws would be implemented to criminalise doping.

There have been 38 doping cases involving Kenyan athletes since 2012.

A report by the German TV station ARD and the British newspaper The Sunday Times alleged that 18 Kenyans were among a third of the medallists at Olympic and world championships between 2001 and 2012 who had suspicious blood test results.

Kenya emerged from the 2015 world championships in Beijing at the top of the medals table for the first time. Jamaica was second with seven golds, two silvers and three bronze. 

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