Jeptoo's lawyer withdraws from CAS hearing

Wed Jul 6, 2016 10:52am EDT
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By Isaack Omulo

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The lawyer representing Kenya's suspended Rita Jeptoo, the Boston and Chicago marathon winner, has withdrawn her services a day before the start of a hearing into the athlete's doping case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In a letter to CAS seen by Reuters, lawyer Sarah Ochwada said several obstacles would hinder her from defending Jeptoo and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and CAS had no sympathy for the athlete's situation.

She added that the IAAF would use Thursday's hearing to ask for Jeptoo's ban to be increased from two years to 12 and said the runner was not capable of representing herself.

Jeptoo was suspended for two years in October 2014 after failing an out-of-competition test for the banned blood-booster EPO, becoming the most high-profile positive test from Kenya, which has seen a raft of doping cases in the past two years.

"Ms. Jeptoo is facing an extension from a standard two-year ban to a disproportionate 12-year ban," Ochwada, who was working for the athlete for free, wrote in the letter.

"Due to her limited ability to communicate in English and her level of education she is not competent to understand let alone to prepare legal documents or argument for herself."

Ochwada also said Jeptoo had no access to facilities for a video conference for the hearing and that Thursday was a public holiday in Kenya, making it difficult for her to summon witnesses.

"It is a sad day for us as it is clear from the foregoing that the IAAF and the CAS have no sympathy for Ms Jeptoo or for us as her legal representatives. It is for the above reason that we can no longer proceed as pro-bono counsel in this matter," said the letter.   Continued...

Kenya's Rita Jeptoo reacts after winning the women's division at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder