Kenyan marathoners Diana Kipyokei and Purity Rionoripo have been banned from athletics for doping, meaning there are now at least 60 athletes from the country currently serving suspensions issued by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
Kipyokei, whose 2021 Boston Marathon title has now been annulled, and Rionoripo, winner of the Paris Marathon in 2017, have been banned for six and five years respectively.
The ban for Kipyokei, 28, has been backdated to June 2022, when the AIU provisionally suspended her, while her results have been disqualified since the day she provided a urine test following her Boston win in October 2021.
“That sample returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for the presence of a metabolite of triamcinolone acetonide, an anti-inflammatory,” the AIU said in a statement.
“With investigative assistance from the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, the AIU discovered that Kipyokei provided false/misleading information in trying to explain her AAF, including fake documentation which she alleged came from a hospital.”
Rionoripo’s ban came after the presence of the diuretic furosemide in an out-of-competition test in Kenya conducted in May.
Like Kipyokei, the 29-year-old was also found to have attempted to have tampered with the evidence against her.
“In her explanation, she claimed to have been prescribed medication by a doctor at a hospital to treat an ankle injury and presented supporting documentation,” the AIU continued.
“Investigations revealed that though Rionoripo was treated at the hospital, she had altered her prescription form.”
Since she has admitted her guilt, the six-year ban sought by the AIU for Rionoripo was reduced by twelve months, and has been backdated to start from 21 November.
Elsewhere, another Kenyan – Betty Wilson Lempus – has been charged with a further violation, on top of the provisional suspension announced in October after also being accused of tampering.
Like both Kipyokei, she was found to have triamcinolone acetonide in her system, which the AIU confirmed after dismissing the explanation given for her positive test.
In response to the attempts to explain away failed drug tests through concocted stories, the head of the AIU has pledged to keep tackling these practices.
“[We will use] the full extent of our intelligence and investigative capabilities to uncover the truth and keep the sport of athletics clean,” said Brett Clothier.
Clothier also addressed the recent pledge by the Kenyan government to commit $5m annually, which is believed to have helped avert a sanction by governing body World Athletics.
“It is a crucial first step and has the potential to be a game changer because it will ensure [the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya] and Athletics Kenya have proportionate resources to play their part in the fight against doping.”