|The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has banned Kenyan long-distance runner Susan Chepkemei for one year after she tested positive for a banned substance, Salbutamol, in an out-of-competition test.
|Susan Chepkemei (103) competes in the Kenya Prisons cross country championships last season. Chepkemei has been banned from running for one year for testing positive for a banned substance, Salbutamol. Photo/FILE
Valentijn Trouw, the agent for the 32-year-old runner, said on Tuesday that Chepkemei was given the asthma medication in September by a doctor when she developed pneumonia during her pregnancy.
“At the beginning of her pregnancy, she didn’t feel well and got the medicine from her doctor,” Trouw was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
“She was completely convinced the medicine was okay because her doctor knew she was a professional athlete.”
The 2001 Rotterdam Marathon champion and world half marathon silver medallist was tested by the global athletics governing body in Nairobi on September 10, the IAAF said in a statement.
“She fully co-operated with the test and wrote on the doping form the medicine she had taken the evening before,” Trouw said.
“Later in the year she was informed her doping test showed a positive result.”
Salbutamol is used to treat complications resulting from pneumonia and asthma.
Trouw said he received a letter from the IAAF on February 14 informing him that Chepkemei had been banned for one year. Athletics Kenya had already handed Chepkemei a one-year ban.
The fact that she said she had pneumonia when she took the banned substance mitigated against a harsher IAAF punishment and Chepkemei will now face a shorter suspension instead of the usual two-year ban for a first-time offender.
Chepkemei’s ban was effective from October 19 last year and she was to be stripped of any results from September 10.
The multi silver medallist will have to forfeit any prize money she won in the Udine World Half Marathon Championships, the only event in which she took part within the said period.
Chepkemei is one of Kenya’s best long distance runners.
Besides her Rotterdam win, she finished second in the 2004 New York Marathon and won the silver medal in the 10,000 metres at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
She also finished second at the 1998 Berlin Marathon and was third at the 2006 London Marathon.
In 2005, Chepkemei missed the St. Etienne World Cross Country Championships after being suspended by AK for failing to attend a training camp.
Second places littered
She is the first-born of eight children and the only runner in the family.
Chepkemei has finished second in major competitions on more occasions than she would probably care to remember.
From cross-country, half marathon, full marathon to the track, she has second places littered all over the world in all 18 years as a professional athlete.
Notable among them are her three runner-up finishes in the New York City Marathon and three second spots in the World Half Marathon Championships.
She posted a time of 1:09.40, second to Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, in the 2000 World Half Marathon Championships at Veracruz, Mexico, and again the following year in Bristol, England (1:07.36).
Chepkemei, who is currently in Nairobi, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
In London 2006, Chepkemei ran her personal best in the marathon clocking 2:21.46 eight years after her debut. But in New York seven months later, she registered her worst ever finish, coming in 10th in 2:32:45.
During the race, a magnetic chip on her right shoe slipped into the inside of her shoe, pressing against her foot for most of the race.
She twice stopped to try and loosen the shoe but the chip continued to dig deeper into her flesh, resulting in a tendon injury that would keep her out for most of 2007.
Race organisers use the magnetic chip on runners’ shoes to give accurate times in major races.
In February 2007, Chepkemei could only manage seventh place at the World’s Best 10km race in Puerto Rico, timing 32.47. In March, she was second at the Lisbon Half Marathon (68:33) behind former Boston winner Rita Jeptoo. Her next race was in Udine where she failed to finish, bowing out with a severe stomach cramp.