Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet banned four years for doping

Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet was banned four years for doping on Wednesday.

The Kenya-born Jebet, who competes for Bahrain, tested positive for the stamina-boosting drug EPO in a sample she gave in December 2017. She won the Olympic gold medal in 2016 and was the world-record holder at the time she tested positive. Jebet’s ban is dated from February 2018. It doesn’t affect her gold medal from the 2016 Olympics because she won that before testing positive.

The verdict follows a lengthy legal battle that was partially delayed because Bahrain’s track federation stopped funding Jebet’s defense.

A disciplinary panel said Jebet offered contradictory explanations of how the EPO entered her system.

The verdict says she claimed she was injected by a person “variously described by her as her husband or boyfriend” and that she said on different occasions that she had thought the substance was either vitamins or painkillers.

She also suggested that her former physiotherapist had misled her about the substance, though the panel found her allegations against him “somewhat bizarre” with “unresolved questions.”

Jebet, the former 3,000m steeplechase world record holder whose landmark was eclipsed by Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech two years ago, tested positive for the banned blood booster r-EPO (recombinant erythropoietin) on 1 December 2017.

Recombinant erythropoietin is a man-made version of natural erythropoietin, and improves athletic performance by stimulating the production of more red blood cells.

The AIU ordered the disqualification of all her results between 1 December 1 2017 and 4 February 2018.

Kenya-born Jebet has the right to appeal  the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but currently will not be able to defend her Olympic title in Tokyo this summer.

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