Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo may be banned for two years instead of four.
This is because the marathoner’s doping case came before a new rule by World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) came to effect.
The new rule requires drug cheats in athletics to be banned for a minimum of four years. It came into effect on January 1 this year.
Changes in Wada code late last year unified anti-doping rules for global sports and also increased the suspension for doping from two years with effect from Thursday.
Athletics Kenya’s Medical Commission meets on Monday to decide when to summon Jeptoo and issue a verdict on her doping case.
Athletics Kenya vice president David Okeyo, who is the association’s director for international affairs and competitions, indicated that Jeptoo’s case came under the old rule stipulating a ban of two years but added that they are yet to decide her case.
Okeyo, who welcomed the four-year ban, noted that it will protect clean athletes around the world and also deter cheating.
Professional Athletics Association of Kenya President Wilson Kipsang welcomed the new rule, saying that beside the four-year ban, PAAK would push for doping to be criminalised in Kenya.
However, Okeyo explained that determination of Jeptoo’s case would depend on a lot of things.
“I can’t disclose the finer details until the commission meets on Monday to know when it will summon the athlete for the final hearing as per regulations,” said Okeyo. “But her case fell in the period of the rule of a maximum of two year ban.”
Jeptoo’s fate was sealed over a fortnight ago after her “B” Sample urine test corroborated her “A” Sample that tested positive for prohibited substance Erythropoietin.
She had made history, becoming the first person to win four consecutive World Marathon Majors Series events when she defended her Boston and Chicago Marathon titles last year.
Her victories, that counted for 100 points, put her in line to win the US$ 1 million (Sh90 million) World Marathon Majors Series jackpot.
“Four years is not much but it’s better than two years that wasn’t deterrent enough,” said Kipsang, the 2012 London Olympic Marathon bronze medallist and winner of the 2014 World Marathon Majors Series.
“Cheating is the biggest crime in sport and it calls for the stiffest of penalties and that is why it should also be punishable by law,” said Kipsang, the 2014 London and New York City marathon champion.
“An athlete will now think twice before cheating, now that the ban is four years.”
Other changes in Wada’s code will see less leniency for missed tests but possible reduced bans for helping investigators.
The punishment for missing three tests within a 12-month period has been increased from 18 months to two years.
While deliberate cheating leads to a four-year ban, athletes guilty of “inadvertent doping” will receive a two-year ban — although they can get a shorter ban if they have “substantial proof that they were not at fault or were not intending to cheat”.
Wada’s 2015 code has more incentives for anyone providing “substantial assistance” in uncovering doping.
“Admitting a violation can be rewarded with a reduced ban, with Wada having the final say. In exceptional cases, Wada has the power to eliminate a ban entirely and offer complete confidentiality for substantial assistance,” the code says.