Nairobi, April 7 (IANS) Kenya's athletics fans expressed shock and disappointment on Friday after receiving the news that Olympic Marathon champion Jemima Sumgong had failed an out-of-competition dope test in February.
David Leting, former head coach of Kenya team, said the announcement will erase the gains made by the country in the fight against doping, but asked the world to focus on breeding a new crop of young athletes who will stay away from the vice, reports Xinhua news agency.
"It is shocking. She has done well for the country and this will certainly smear us negatively. Kenya has done a lot to counter the vice and as long as these top athletes continue to be influenced to use performance enhancement drugs, younger athletes will follow suit," he said from Eldoret.
Sumgong, 32, had a very successful campaign in the 2016 season. She won the London Marathon in April before going on to claim the Rio Olympics marathon crown, the one medal that had eluded Kenya for a long time.
Her win in Rio was spectacular as she had been obstructed by a protestor on her way to the finish line.
Already London marathon organisers have expressed their disappointment in her action and struck her off the list of elite runners to compete in the event on April 23 where she was to defend her crown.
"We are extremely disappointed to learn that Sumgong (Kenya) failed an out of competition drugs test in February. She is currently suspended from competition pending the B test and the outcome of the investigation.
Sumgong will, therefore, not run in London on April 23 to defend the title she won last year. She is currently the leader in the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Abbott WMM) Series X standings which concludes in Boston on April 17.
Under Abbott WMM rules, if she were to finish top of the rankings at conclusion of the Series, an athlete who fails a drug test and is banned is not eligible to win the Series or to receive any prize money.
IAAF also confirmed Sumgong's positive results. "The IAAF can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) has commenced this week. The athlete tested positive for EPO (Erythropoietin) following a no-notice test conducted by the IAAF in Kenya," IAAF said in a statement issued on Thursday.
"This was part of an enhanced IAAF out-of-competition testing program dedicated to elite marathon runners which is supported by the Abbott World Marathon Majors group."