Asbel Kiprop, the best miler of the last decade, a three-time 1,500-meter world champion, and an Olympic gold medalist, reportedly tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail broke the story yesterday; several other outlets independently confirmed the report; and Kiprop released a statement through his lawyer today. One of Kiprop’s agents, Federico Rosa, confirmed to Deadspin that the statement was real.
Like nearly every athlete who fails a drug test, Kiprop has a bizarre and convoluted story defending himself. However, this one appears to contain at least one grain of truth in it. According to Kenyan journalist Saddique Shaban, track’s international governing body has admitted it’s true that Kiprop was informed of the drug test a day early (something that is not supposed to happen) and that he paid the doping control officer who collected the test (definitely not something that is supposed to happen).
Specifically, Kiprop claimed that the people who took his urine test extorted him. From his statement:
9. After the Doping Control Officers [Mr. Paul Scott and Mr. Simon Karugu “Mburu”] arrived at 7.50am, and after I had given them the urine sample Mr. Simon Karugu “Mburu” asked [for the first time in their visits] if I could give them some money. He did not specify how much they needed. At 8.11am I forwarded to them money through Mr. Simon Karugu “Mburu”’s phone using M-Pesa. As a police officer I found it wise to send by M-Pesa for record. I did not at the time expect that the request for the money had anything to do with the sample. 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. Mr. Simon Karugu “Mburu” acknowledged verbally and audibly receiving the M-pesa money while he was seated next to Mr. Paul Scott.
10. I remain perplexed on how my innocent sample could turn positive on the only time when money was extorted from me. It is not beyond my suspicion that my sample turned positive because I might have remitted less money than I was expected to remit.
11. After I had supplied the required urine into initial vessel I left the sample on the table where Paul Scott and Simon karugu “Mburu” were seated to go to my bedroom to look for cash money upon their request. However I subsequently decided to use M-Pesa. When I went to my bedroom to collect the cash I left the urine sample, in the plastic vessel in the sitting room, where as stated above, messers Paul Scott and Mr. Simon Karugu were seated with the samples. The M-Pesa was delivered when I was still at the bedroom.
12. I don’t know if my sample was interfered with while I was at the bedroom.
13. I don’t know if the amount I remitted could have been less than what was expected from me, and if it caused annoyance that may have resulted in the contamination of the sample.
14. After i came out of the bedroom proceeded to spilt my urine sample into 2 other containers [sample “A” and sample “B”] then sealed at 8.20am. Both Doping Officers left shortly after sealing the sample at 8.20am. They left probably around 8.30am.
15. The money I was asked for was remitted 9 minutes [at 8.11am] before the samples were sealed [at 8.20am].
The IAAF has yet to comment on another interesting allegation made by Kiprop: that they asked him to be an anti-drug spokesman and admit he doped.
18. I have been asked to admit that I doped so that I would be made an ambassador of I.A.A.F on anti-doping. I have refused, as this is not only untrue but also a fraud. I do not need absolution on the allegations.
Distance Runner Pisses Hot is not the most shocking story, particularly when that runner is managed by the Rosas. Father and son Gabriele and Federico Rosa of Italy had been the agents for 2016 Olympic marathon gold medalist Jemima Sumgong and two-time Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo when those women tested positive for EPO in recent years. (The Rosas also managed legendary Kenyan champions Paul Tergat and Sammy Wanjiru.) Federico faced criminal charges in Kenya for doping, but the charges were dropped in 2016.
Whatever happens to Kiprop, this is nothing new for middle distance running. He earned the Olympic gold medal from 2008 only after the winner of that race, Rashid Ramzi, tested positive.