April 22, 2015 / 3:43 PM / 4 years ago

Kenya 'open-minded' on appeal to increase Jeptoo ban

Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo arrives at the Athletics Kenya headquarters in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya “followed due process” in suspending Chicago and Boston marathon winner Rita Jeptoo for two years for doping but are “open-minded” on governing body IAAF’s appeal to double the ban, Athletics Kenya chief executive Isaac Mwangi said.

The International Association of Athletics Federations wants the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to hand Jeptoo a harsher punishment due to “aggravating circumstances which it argues warrant an extended period of ineligibility.”

Jeptoo failed an out-of-competition test in September for the blood-booster EPO although she denies doping and has appealed to CAS, sport’s highest court, for the suspension to be lifted.

“We are open-minded about the matter but we shall wait for details to be able to comment further. I think we followed due process while making that decision (to suspend Rita Jeptoo for two years) and we were guided by IAAF rules,” Mwangi told Reuters on Wednesday.

Jeptoo, 34, won back-to-back Boston and Chicago titles in 2013 and 2014 — as well as Boston in 2006 — to top the two-year World Marathon Majors series standings last year.

Jeptoo’s case has focused attention on Kenyan athletes who are among the world’s best middle and long distance runners but have failed a number of drug tests, with the sports minister saying the rise in doping had “embarrassed” the country.

At least 36 Kenyan athletes have failed dope tests in the past two years. Kenyan government officials have blamed the growing doping cases on foreign agents and AK’s failure to educate its athletes properly.

Writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Justin Palmer

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