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A serial marathon champion has been banned from athletics for 10 years after he took performance-enhancing drugs and attempted to cover his tracks using fake medical records supplied by a senior doctor.
Titus Ekiru, the sixth-fastest marathon runner of all time, twice tested positive for prohibited substances in urine samples in 2021 after winning both the Milan and Abu Dhabi Marathons.
The Kenyan 31-year-old later enlisted the help of the senior doctor who had supplied the banned products, in order to manipulate hospital records to explain his visits and justify an injection that had never been recorded.
Ekiru submitted these documents to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) as part of his initial defence, but evidence from a senior medical official of the Nandi County Government in Kenya helped to prove that the hospital records were forged.
In its findings, the AIU said: “Based on the information received from the Hospital, the AIU considered that the Athlete’s explanations for the First Adverse Analytical Finding and the Second Adverse Analytical Finding were not genuine and that the medical documents that he had submitted to corroborate those explanations were forged/fraudulent documents.”
Ekiru tested positive for Triamcinolone Acetonide after winning in Milan but was not immediately charged after claiming the test result was due to legitimate medical treatment. He tested positive for Pethidine after winning in Abu Dhabi, and again claimed the outcome resulted from legitimate medical treatment.
The case was reopened last year and, working alongside the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak), the AIU provisionally suspended Ekiru in June 2022.
In July, faced with substantial evidence against him, Ekiru decided that he no longer wanted to pursue the case. The AIU ended its disciplinary tribunal and issued its decision on Monday.
The body handed down a mandatory four-year ban for anti-doping violations, increased by a maximum of two years to six for “aggravating circumstances”. It also issued a separate four-year ban for “tampering” with evidence, and ordered the two suspensions to be served consecutively, totalling 10 years.
“The AIU considers that Aggravating Circumstances are present in relation to these violations, in particular, that the Athlete committed multiple Anti-Doping Rule Violations, engaged in deceptive or obstructive conduct to avoid the detection or adjudication of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation and engaged in Tampering during Results Management.”
David Howman, the AIU’s chair, said: “Government officials are now working alongside Adak and the AIU to uncover doping in Kenyan athletics and expose the networks that may be involved. For athletes involved in doping and the entourage who assist them, there is one strong message from this case – there is nowhere to hide.”
The doctor who colluded with Ekiru, who has not been named, has been referred to criminal authorities in Kenya for further investigation.
Ekiru has enjoyed a medal-laden career as a long-distance runner, with victories in a number of prestigious marathons around the world including Mexico City, Seville and Honolulu. He won half-marathon gold at the 2019 African Games in Morocco.
Ekiru’s results since (and including) the Milan Marathon on 16 May 2021 have been annulled. He has the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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