Since returning to the marathon world in 2010 after two years of maternity leave, Kenyan runner Rita Jeptoo has demonstrated a number of impressive performances, including her recent victory at the Boston marathon with a course record of 2:18 57. Unfortunately, the chief executive of the London Marathon recently announced that Jeptoo has tested positive for illegal drugs, putting her World Marathon Majors championship and $500,000 prize on hold as the matter waits to be resolved.
The World Marathon Majors is an international race series featuring popular marathons in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. This year, Jeptoo won both the Boston and Chicago marathons, earning the WMM championship. However, Nick Bitel, the London Marathon CEO and general counsel to the WMM, announced in early October that the organization had been informed that Jeptoo had tested positive in an out-of-competition test a month before. The type of drug she allegedly used is unknown. She has exercised her right to request that a second sample be tested, and is currently awaiting the results.
Currently, the IAAF has made no decision in this case, and the Chicago Marathon director has said that they are waiting for their ruling to make a decision about Jeptoo’s standing. While her team has declined to comment on the case because of the ongoing process, the positive test was reportedly administered before she traveled to the U.S. for the event in Chicago.
Other top Kenyan runners have expressed surprise at the positive drug test, praising her athletic performance. However, given that many of Kenya’s own athletic’s officials have commented that that they need to make testing more effective, this is hardly reassuring. While drug testing is fairly commonplace in the United States, where around 69.3% of urgent care centers provide the service for employment purposes alone, regular testing is rare in other nations. However, another prominent Kenyan racer, Edna Kiplagat, reported that IAAF officials have conducted several unannounced tests on her, suggesting that the testing program may be growing more effective.
Critics say that a major issue with current drug testing parameters is that there are no uniform guidelines from country to country. Regardless of the outcome of Jeptoo’s failed test, perhaps Kenya and other nations will see the case of this prominent racer as a sign to improve the current process.