NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE travails of Kenya’s marathon runner, Rita Jeptoo, with the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) lends a human face to a country whose world domination in athletics is shrouded in a doping storm just a month away from the Rio Olympics.
Jeptoo (35), a triple champion in both Boston and Chicago marathon is among one of the 40 Kenyan athletes who have failed doping tests in the past three years, shredding the East African country’s reputation for probity and laying bare the reality behind its reputation as the most dominant middle to long distance running nation in the world.
Her professional career hangs in balance as she battles a lone battle to clear her name with CAS, which has shown no sympathy to her situation by commencing the trial in her absence after Athletes Kenya (AK) and her lawyers withdrew from the appeals hearing hours before the start of the probe into alleged doping.
The allegations come as a major blow as it comes only weeks after Kenyan lawmakers passed into law after being threatened with a similar sanction as the Russians by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), legislation making it a criminal act to either dope or to supply such products.
CAS commenced a hearing in the arbitration procedure involving the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Athletics Kenya and Jeptoo.
Jeptoo, who won Boston Marathon in 2006, and back-to-back Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon titles in 2013 and 2014, as well as marathons in Lisbon, Milan, Paris and Stockholm, has denied doping.
However, the IAAF filed a statement of appeal at the CAS against Athletics Kenya and Rita Jeptoo, concerning the decision rendered by Athletics Kenya Medical and Anti-Doping Commission on 27 January 2015, pursuant to which Jeptoo was sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility for an anti-doping rule violation.
In addition, the IAAF filed a request for arbitration at the CAS asserting Jeptoo committed a further anti-doping rule violation relating to alleged Attempted Tampering with the Doping Control Process. The two procedures are being handled concurrently.
The IAAF seeks an increase in the athlete’s two-year period of ineligibility and the disqualification of the athlete’s result in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
In a letter to CAS, Athletics Kenya’s lawyer, Elias Masika Juma, said several obstacles, also cited by Jeptoo’s lawyers who earlier withdrew from the case, would hinder Jeptoo from getting a fair trial.
The letter also stated that the arrest of the athlete’s former manager, Federico Rosa, and ex-coach, Claudio Berardelli, who by reason of their incarceration as above could not be subjected to cross examination during the hearing yet this was extremely critical to the case.
“The centrality of the above evidence to the eventual outcome of the two appeals is obvious. As the two are now in detention and definitely not available for cross-examination, their absence deprives Athletics Kenya of a huge opportunity to establish fundamental matters which are necessary for not only this appeal but also in its engagement with the duo given their involvement in matters of athletics in Kenya and especially as the country prepares for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games,” reads the letter addressed to CAS.
“As a Federation that is aware of the athlete’s level of education, we are not without sympathy to her present circumstances,” the lawyers added.
The contents of an email the letter sent to CAS and copied to Athletics Kenya reflects the athlete’s disillusionment thus far.
“Hii me Rita Jeptoo because of problems of the appeal. Mumenisumbua sana always very low. Very difficult no lawyer to help me no hope no justice. Not . You promise me to help with a pro bono lawyer but lots of problems right now. Coming alone, need lawyer please. Yours Rita.”
According to Athletics Africa, the authoritative source of the sport in the continent suggests the athlete is expressing disturbance because of the problems arising from the appeal. It would appear that she is not even aware that there are two appeals facing her.
“She is hopeless. She asks for a lawyer as she is coming alone. We are not sure even where she claims she is going to.”
Jeptoo, who dropped out of school in primary level (Standard Six), found traction in athletics and rose to stardom, from where she is about to meet her demise.
Her husband, Noah Busienei, is quoted as saying she is a victim of the “messed up athletics world.”
“It hurts me to see her suffering and being shamed as a cheat. It hurts more that she was lured out of our matrimonial home after I raised questions about her decision to leave Gianni’s camp,” said Busienei.
– CAJ News