(23-Jul) -- Elijah Motonei Manangoi, the affable Kenyan who won the World Athletics 1500m title in London in 2017, has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for whereabouts failures. According to the World Anti-Doping Code, "any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures, as defined in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations, within a twelve-month period by an Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool" constitutes a whereabouts failure which is punishable by suspension.
PHOTO: Elijah Manangoi winning the 2017 World Athletics 1500m title in London (photo by Getty Images via World Athletics)
The AIU did not make any details of the case available, the standard protocol when a doping charge has been issued, but not yet proven. Manangoi is entitled to a hearing and has the right to defend himself with the assistance of an attorney.
Manangoi had a breakout year in 2017. In his first outdoor race of the year, the Doha Diamond League on May 5, he won the 1500m in a fast personal best of 3:31.90 which he subsequently lowered in the Monaco Diamond League on July 21, clocking a sizzling 3:28.80. That mark would hold up as the fastest time for 2017. In the World Athletics Championships in London in August, Manangoi won both his preliminary round and semi-final races, then took the final in a fast and tactical 3:33.61, just 38/100ths of a second ahead of his training partner, Timothy Cheruiyot, who would become the 2019 world champion.
"It's really hard because it's a championship," Manangoi said in his post-race interview under the London stadium which was also used for the 2012 Olympics. "Everybody needs to go hard. It was a very tactical race, but we have to accept because it's a championships and not a Diamond League."
Manangoi has only competed once this year, in the exhibition 2000-meter race in the Impossible Games where a five-man squad led by Cheruiyot competed remotely in Nairobi against another five-man team of Norwegian athletes led by Jakob Ingebrigtsen who ran in Bislett Stadium. Manangoi clocked 5:18.53 at high altitude. He did not compete indoors.
Separately, the AIU also announced sanctions against two Kenyan marathon runners, Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi and Mercy Jerotich Kibarus.
Kipkemoi tested positive for Terbutaline, a beta adrenergic receptor agonist which is used generally to treat asthma, in an out-of-competition test administered in Kaptagat, Kenya, on September 12, 2019. Despite providing evidence that he was receiving treatment from a doctor for "pneumonia, malaria, and associated coughing," according to the AIU decision, the 35 year-old has been suspended for two years beginning February 25, 2020, and loses any competition results from September 12, 2019. That means he gets to keep his third place finish from the 2019 Boston Marathon which occurred in April.
"The Athlete's conduct also falls short of the expected standard of behaviour for an athlete in his position and fails to establish that he bore No Significant Fault or Negligence," the AIU said in their decision. "In light of the foregoing, and considering the absence of any circumstances that would mitigate the degree of fault or negligence attributable to the Athlete, the Sole Arbitrator concludes that the period of Ineligibility to be imposed in the matter at hand must be two years."
Kibarus, 36, received an extraordinary 8-year ban for 19-Norandrosterone, a metabolite of the steroid Nandrolone. She returned two positive tests in connection with the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon which was held on September 15, 2019 (Kibarus finished sixth in 2:35:13). Since this was Kibarus's second anti-doping violation within a 10-year period, she received the long ban which effectively ends her career. Her ban officially began on December 5, 2019, and she loses the result from Cape Town plus her fourth place finish at the Galaxy Entertainment Macau International Marathon which was held on December 1 (she finished fourth in 2:32:12). Her best performance was the 2:26:52 she ran in Seoul in 2017.
Both Kipkemoi and Kibarus have the right to appeal.