Kenyan-born 3,000 metres steeplechase Olympic champion Ruth Jebet, who competes for Bahrain, has been hit with a four-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
Jebet, 22, tested positive for a banned substance, erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys but can be artificially manufactured to improve performance.
The decision was made by the Independent Disciplinary Tribunal which hears all first-instance disciplinary cases as stipulated by World Athletics anti-doping rules.
Jebet will, however, not be stripped of her 2016 Olympic gold as the disqualified results are from December 1, 2017, to February 18, 2018.
The athlete maintained her innocence when given a chance to defend herself, insisting she did not intentionally administer the substance to herself.
“I have 21 years old and I don’t know about these medicines and supplements, but I have to inform you that the last time I took some tablets and injection given by Nicholas Togom for therapeutic use he says it’s good for regeneration, but I don’t know that these medicines are prohibited.
“For sure you found this substance in my urine and I am responsible of [sic] my body but never had I taken this substance intentionally,” she told AIU in her response dated March 2, 2018.
The AIU report on the decision revealed that Nicholas Togom was variously described as Jebet’s husband or boyfriend.
She provided a urine sample at her training base in Kapsabet, Uasin Gishu County on December 1, 2017.
The sample was tested at a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden on December 19, 2017, revealing the presence of EPO.
In April 2013, Jebet caught the eye of many as she won the 3,000 metres and the 5,000 metres at the national Kenya Secondary School Games. She transferred her eligibility to Bahrain in the same year, aged sixteen.
In the update on new decisions, the AIU also revealed that 27-year-old Kenyan athlete Peter Ndorobo Kwemoihad been banned for four years.
Kemoi takes part in marathons and half-marathons around the world. He finished second in the Zwolle Half Marathon in the Netherlands in June 2017.
He tested positive for EPO after providing a urine sample in Istanbul, Turkey on November 3, 2019.