17th January 2019

Four athletes subject to recent Athletics Integrity Unit proceedings

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has sanctioned two athletes for doping, and has provisionally suspended two more. Kenyan distance runner Lucy Kabuu Wangui will lose her first place at the Milan Marathon, after a sample taken at that race returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for morphine. Her two year ban will run from 1 August 2018.

The AIU also confirmed that the Ukrainian Athletics Federation has issued its final decision regarding hurdler Hanna Titimets, who will receive a two year ban from 3 April 2017. Titimets has been sanctioned for use of a prohibited substance/method, based on readings from her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP). As her results have been cancelled from 26 June 2012 to 26 June 2014, it is understood that she will be able to keep the Silver medal she won in the 400m hurdles at the Zurich 2014 European Championships on 16 August. 

Nigerian-born Bahraini 400m sprinter Oluwakemi (Kemi) Adekoya has also been notified that she has returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF), confirmed the AIU on Twitter (see below). The AIU list of provisional suspensions confirms that Adekoya, who won Gold in the 400m at the 2016 Portland World Indoors, returned an AAF for stanozolol.

The AIU list of provisional suspensions also reveals that James Mwangi Wangari has been charged with an AAF for testosterone. Wangari, the winner of the 2016 Copenhagen Half Marathon, was provisionally suspended by the AIU on 10 December.

A published Decision regarding Wangui’s case (PDF below) outlines that morphine is only prohibited in competition. Wangui’s sample returned a morphine to codeine ratio of 6.3, exceeding the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) specified Decision Limit (DL) for the substance, which is a ratio of total morphine to total codeine equal or higher than 2.0 and a concentration of total codeine not higher than 5μg/mL.

The decision shows that Wangui attempted to explain her AAF by providing details of medical and dental treatments, however the Panel found that none of these involved morphine. She also alleged that a roommate may have spiked her Lucozade bottle ahead of the race; that Vivian Kiplagat was experiencing a cold and her agents, Rosa Associati, swapped Kiplagat’s AAF with hers; and that she drank from Sheila Chepkech’s water bottle between 10km and 30km during the Marathon. The Panel found that she had not presented any evidence to support these allegations.

‘We appreciate the sincerity with which the Athlete has put her case’, reads the Decision. ‘In reality, her case is that she does not know how the Adverse Analytical Finding occurred, and she has sought to identify a variety of possible (albeit speculative) explanations. We note that the AIU did not seek to allege that the doping was intentional.’

Wangui’s management company, Rosa Associati, was suspended from working with Kenyan athletes for six months by Athletics Kenya in April 2015. In July 2016, Italian coach Federico Rosa was released on bail after facing criminal charges relating to doping.

Rosa Associati has represented the following athletes who have been involved in anti-doping proceedings:

Jemima Sumgong, sanctioned with a four year ban after an AAF for erythropoietin (EPO);
Rita Jeptoo, sanctioned with a two year ban after an AAF for EPO – later increased to four years at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after an appeal from the IAAF;
Amantle Montsho, who abandoned an appeal against a two year ban after an AAF for methylhexanamine at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, due to rising costs;
Mathew Kisorio, who completed a two year ban after testing positive for steroids in 2012. 

Kisorio was also involved in German journalist Hajo Seppelt’s 2012 investigation into doping in the Kenyan city of Eldoret, which is a gateway city for altitude training in Kenya. He told Seppelt that many Kenyan athletes were doping and that Athletics Kenya was ignoring the situation. He also alleged that Athletics Kenya officials had indicated that they would accept payment in return for the covering up of his AAF. 

The Ethics Board of the IAAF later cleared Athletics Kenya officials of charges that they had attempted to extort money from six athletes in return for the covering up of AAFs. The IAAF Panel also found that evidence suggesting documents had been faked, witnesses procured, and athletes pressurised in order to provide the defendants with an alibi, could not be proven. In its concluding remarks, the panel said that it had been ‘perturbed’ by some of the evidence outlined in the case.

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