Kenyan marathon runner Ekiru hit with 10-year doping banMon, 16 Oct 2023 15:43:44 GMT

Kenyan marathon runner Titus Ekiru has been slapped with a 10-year ban for doping and trying to obstruct the investigation, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said Monday.The 31-year-old tested positive for prohibited substances after winning the Milan marathon in May 2021 and the Abu Dhabi event in November that year, it said in a statement.Kenya has seen a surge in doping cases which have stained the reputation of the athletics powerhouse. Almost 70 athletes — mainly distance runners — have been banned in the last five years.In addition to the ban, the AIU said Ekiru’s results including and since the Milan race have been disqualified and all prizes forfeited.His victory in Milan, in the exceptionally fast time of 2hr 2min 57sec, had made him the sixth fastest marathon runner of all-time but he has now been stripped of that accolade.The ban follows a “comprehensive investigation” which revealed tampering by Ekiru to obstruct the AIU probe, and collusion by a senior doctor at a Kenyan hospital, the agency said.”Initially, Ekiru signalled his intention to contest the charges. However, faced with substantial evidence against him, the Kenyan athlete decided that he no longer wanted to pursue the case,” it added.Ekiru had tested positive for triamcinolone acetonide after winning in Milan and for pethidine after his victory in Abu Dhabi.Ekiru, who was provisionally suspended in June last year, had claimed the outcome resulted from legitimate medical treatment for injuries.But the probe found that a senior doctor had colluded with Ekiru and that hospital documents provided to the AIU to explain the presence of prohibited substances were forged.The body has called for the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) to refer the doctor to the criminal authorities in Kenya for further investigation.”For athletes involved in doping and the entourage who assist them, there is one strong message from this case -– there is nowhere to hide,” AIU chair David Howman said.Ekiru’s ban dates from his provisional suspension and will run until June 2032.