Titus Ekiru’s 10-Year Ban Reveals Complex Doping Crisis in Kenyan Athletics

The 10-year ban imposed on Kenyan marathoner Titus Ekiru exposes a deeper layer of the doping problem in Kenya’s athletics, highlighting the lengths athletes are willing to go to evade detection.

The 10-year suspension handed to Kenyan marathoner Titus Ekiru by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has brought to light another facet of the doping issue that has plagued Kenya’s athletics for nearly a decade.

The AIU, in a statement released in the Kenyan capital, disclosed that the most extended sanction ever imposed on a Kenyan athlete was the result of a thorough investigation that uncovered Ekiru’s attempt to obstruct the inquiry into two failed drug tests. According to reports from Xinhua, the 31-year-old athlete had tampered with the investigations.

The AIU elaborated that Ekiru collaborated with a senior doctor in Nandi County, located in northwest Kenya. On two occasions, April 29 and May 6, 2021, Ekiru received injections of triamcinolone acetonide during unrecorded hospital visits. The senior doctor explained that the visits went unrecorded because Ekiru had come early in the morning, before the registration offices had opened.

Ekiru had tested positive twice for prohibited substances or their metabolites and faces a ban from June 28, 2022, to June 27, 2032. The AIU stated that Ekiru’s results from May 16, 2021, onwards have been invalidated, resulting in the forfeiture of all prizes and earnings.

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Ekiru’s achievements, including his victory in the 2021 Milan Marathon in 2:02:57, which would have made him the seventh-fastest marathoner of all time, and his win in the Abu Dhabi marathon in 2:06:13, have been nullified and removed from the record books.

In a previous report in May, the AIU expressed concerns about the proliferation of doping in Kenya, transforming from isolated incidents into a sophisticated industry where dishonest athletes were earning substantial sums of money.

Ekiru’s case has exposed the depth of the crisis that has led to Kenya’s categorization in group A, which comprises countries with athletes at a high risk of doping, since 2017.

“Titus Ekiru’s case is mind-boggling. The lengths to which the athlete went to cover his tracks and the efforts made by the AIU and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) to uncover the truth are astonishing,” commented local television journalist James Wokabi on social media after the AIU report was made public.

Prior to his ban, Ekiru had won marathons in Seville (2017), San Diego, Mexico City, and Honolulu (all in 2018), as well as Milan and Honolulu again in 2021. He had also secured the Half Marathon gold medal for Kenya at the 2019 All-Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco.

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