LONDON (Reuters) - The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) confirmed on Friday that Kenyan former three-times world 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop had tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO, and rejected some of his extraordinary allegations against officials.
Kiprop, 28, said on Thursday in a lengthy statement that his urine sample might have been tampered with by dope testers who, he said, 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 advance notice but said it was satisfied there had been no interference with his sample.
“These allegations have been investigated by the AIU. The AIU is satisfied that there has been no mix up or tampering with the sample,” said its statement.
Kiprop’s case is now with an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) disciplinary tribunal and he could be banned for four years if found guilty of doping.
Around 50 Kenyan athletes have failed tests in recent years, including three-times Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo and Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong.
One of the more eye-catching claims made by Kiprop, a senior police officer, was that he had 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.
“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.”
The AIU statement did not address that allegation but added: “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) ... This will ultimately be a matter for the tribunal to determine.”
Kiprop said the testers, who first visited him at his disclosed whereabouts in Iten on Nov. 27, had suggested he admit to doping so that he could be given an IAAF anti-doping “ambassador role” - an allegation the AIU flatly rejected.
It said that, before opening proceedings, AIU investigators had given Kiprop the chance to “admit any offence promptly or to provide information about doping in athletics that could amount to ‘substantial assistance’”.
“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 on Feb. 3.
“I will be 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”.
He added that it would have been “less than clever” of him to dope seven months before his next scheduled competition in Qatar on May 4, and that he could easily have dodged the test.
“I could choose to miss the collection without any consequences,” he said. Consequences for missing a sampling meeting arise only after missing three times. I had not missed previously.”
As part of IAAF head Sebastian Coe’s reforms of the body, doping matters have been dealt with by the 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 gold at the 2008 Olympics after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi tested positive for doping.
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, additional reporting by Isaack Omolu and Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Kevin Liffey