Asbel Kiprop maintains his innoncence and will appeal the suspension.
2008 Olympic 1,500 meter champion Asbel Kiprop has been handed a four-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit's panel after he tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test in Kenya on November 2017. Kiprop's suspension was backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when he was provisionally suspended.
On April 12th, his lawyer posted a 3,000-word statement on Facebook that reaffirmed his claim that the positive test came as a result of a contaminated sample or was flawed. The AIU's decision on Kiprop states that Kiprop's lawyer presented their panel with "a la carte menu of reasons why the charges should be dismissed" but none of them had any plausibility.
The panel shot down any defense that the positive test came as a result of natural EPO from training at high altitude, medication, irregular sample collection, sample spiking or substitution. Both Kiprop's A and B sample contained EPO.
Kiprop has been publicly vocal against doping for years. He finished second at the 2008 Olympics but was upgrded to gold after Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi tested positive for a banned substance upon retesting of a drug sample. While serving his provisional suspension, Kiprop openly spoke to Kenyan media about his positive test.
"The decision is not only a blow to me, but it is not good for the sport of athletics," Kiprop told AFP.
"I have been insisting that I did not dope," he added. "I will continue to maintain my innocence, even if this decision now means I will not be eligible to run again for the next four years."
In his defense, Kiprop, 27, told investigators that he was provided with advanced notiec about the drug test ahead and later made a payment to doping control officials. It was determined that the advanced notice and the payment did not cause the adverse analytical finding of EPO in Kiprop's drug sample.
In addition to his gold medal from the Beijing Summer Games, Kiprop has also won three world championship gold medals and his personal best of 3:26.69 makes him the third-fastest man of all-time in the 1,500 meters.
Kiprop can still appeal the AIU decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Kiprop is just one of the latest athletes who has been disciplined following an investigation by the AIU and 'intelligence-driven' testing.