World champion Emily Chebet among Kenyans suspended for positive tests

Emily Chebet is a two-time world cross-country champion. 
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Two-time world cross-country champion Emily Chebet is among seven Kenyans suspended by Athletics Kenya for using performance enhancing drugs, the Kenyan track and field governing body announced in a press release.

Chebet has been sanctioned for four years starting on July 17, 2015 to July 16, 2019 for using the prohibited substance Furosemide. The out-of-competition test took place on June 4, which resulted in an Adverse Analytical Finding on July 7.

Chebet won world cross-country titles in 2010 and 2013. She finished sixth at this year's world cross-country championships in Guiyang, China. She holds a personal best of 68:01 for the half-marathon. She last competed in Albany, New York at the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K on May 30, where she won in 15:38.

Her management, International Athletics Consultancy, issued the following statement:

“International Athletics Consultancy doesn’t condone any breach of rules and regulations governed by the ethics of sport, Olympism, IAAF, WADA and national federations. All clients of International Athletics Consultancy are advised to independently seek expertise in relation to WADA's List and Methods, Therapeutic Use Exemptions and Athlete Biological Passport.”

Chebet opted not to have her B-sample tested and accepted the doping sanction as no explanation for the the positive test was found in the last five months. 

Manager Davor Savija said in a statement that he met with Chebet at the Kenyan national team trials for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Chebet expressed shock and confusion and told him that sabotage or medical negligence could be potential explanations for the positive test. IAC agent Zane Branson, 57, died of a heart attack in July.

“Due to travel through Ethiopia and Kenya, late [agent] Zane Branson was to meet with Emily in late July, to properly discuss developments, as most of communication (between days on which the Adverse Analytical Findings were reported and on which a provisional sanctioning was communicated) was indirect and though our Kenyan associate or Emily’s husband, Edward Muge,” the statement said.

Francisca Koki and Joyce Zakari were also suspended four years for use of Furosemide. Koki and Zakari were provisionally suspended after testing positive at this summer's world championships in Beijing.

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Koki was the Kenyan national champion in the 400-meter hurdles. Zakari won her section of the women's 400-meter run in 50.41 seconds and did not show up for the semifinals. In July, she set a national record of 51.14 at altitude in Nairobi, Kenya to claim the national title.

Marathoner Agnes Jepkosgei was also suspended four years from Oct. 17, 2015 to Oct. 16, 2019 for Noandrosterone use.

Road racer Bernard Mwendia, Judy Jesire and Lilian Moraa were suspended for two years. Mwednia and Jesire tested positive for Norandrosterone while Moraa was using Erythropoietin.

Kenya and Jamaica, who topped the IAAF World Championship medal table this summer, were not placed on a “watch list” by the World Anti-Doping Agency after Russia was banned from international competition following their systemic doping violations. Kenya is being investigated by the IAAF for alleged doping cover-ups since last March, WADA announced last week. Kenya may have avoided being placed on the watch list by immediately establishing an anti-doping agency after Russia’s suspension.

About 40 Kenyan athletes have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the past two years. The highest profile case in the last two years was Boston and Chicago Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo’s positive test for EPO just days before almost collecting $500,000 in prize money from the World Marathon Majors.

Last week, Kenyan athletes occupied the Athletics Kenya headquarters demanding the removal of its top officials in a protest against doping and corruption​.

- Christopher Chavez