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Credibility of Kenyan marathoners in doubt after star runner Rita Jeptoo reportedly flunks doping test

It is no secret that Kenyans have dominated road racing for decades, setting records like clockwork and winning great amounts of prize money. But now, on the eve of the New York City Marathon, it turns out there might be a secret after all: Several of them have been cheating.

The World Marathon Majors series postponed its scheduled awards ceremony on Sunday, after receiving news that Kenyan star Rita Jeptoo had tested positive for doping. The website RunBlogRun reported that Jeptoo’s A sample tested positive for an undisclosed substance back in September, before she won a second straight Chicago Marathon. Results of her B sample are not yet known, so the IAAF hasn’t released any information on the case.

Jeptoo, 33, who was not scheduled to race Sunday in New York, also has captured the last two Boston Marathons. She is considered the top women’s marathoner, and was expected to receive that World Marathon Majors prize of $500,000. Two other Kenyans, Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo (unrelated, but a training partner), won the 2013 New York City Marathon.

“This will affect the entire credibility of the Kenyans,” said Jeptoo’s coach, Claudio Berardelli. “It will definitely destroy the system, even for those who are clean. People will say that’s why they run faster.”

Berardelli, an Italian, coaches several Kenyan runners and was on hand Friday at the Javits Center for pre-race activities. Berardelli said he had been in touch with Rita Jeptoo and that “she was totally confused.” Berardelli said he was confused, too, because he trained with his runners from 5:30 in the morning to 7:30 at night and that as far as drug rumors went, “You don’t hear much about it.”

 

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