June 15, 2018 / 1:45 PM / a month ago

'Abandoned' Kiprop says he's at AIU's mercy

ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenya’s former Olympic and three-time world 1500-metres champion Asbel Kiprop said on Friday he will not fight doping charges against him and accused his country and management of abandoning him in his hour of need.

FILE PHOTO - 2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's 1500m Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 20/08/2016. Asbel Kiprop (KEN) of Kenya and Taoufik Makhloufi (ALG) of Algeria compete. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“I have filed my defense and it is upon them (Athletes Integrity Unit, AIU) to see what to do with it. I am at their mercy,” Kiprop, 28, told Reuters in his rural Simat home on Friday.

“People I thought were my supporters have abandoned me. The government is quiet... the federation (Athletics Kenya, AK) is quiet... my manager is quiet, athletes are only giving me moral support, yet the money required is huge.”

The AIU said in May that Kiprop had tested positive following an out-of-competition test in November last year.

The Kenyan’s sample was found with traces of blood booster EPO, an accusation he still denied on Friday.

“The AIU is desperate for relevance, to the extent of fixing an innocent (sic) person. I did not dope,” he said.

“How can it (AIU) be the tester, the prosecutor and the judge? Any person can see something is not right.”

The AIU could not be immediately reached for comment.

Athletics Kenya (AK) Executive Committee member, Barnaba Korir, defended his organization and the government.

“What does he want the federation and government to do? The rules are very clear, the issue is with the AIU. They are the people driving the process. Neither the federation nor the government can do anything, even if we wanted,” he said.

“And why should he surrender if he knows he is innocent? You must fight for your right if you are innocent. I find many contradictions in his (previous) statements.”

A retired athlete who sought anonymity, fearing he may be perceived as condoning doping, wondered why the AIU should test, prosecute and judge the case all at the same time.

He thought Kiprop had a strong argument, saying, for instance, that since the AIU had confirmed the testers forewarned Kiprop of the testing, the case was compromised.

“I called my manager (Federico Rosa) the whole of last week and he did not pick my call,” Kiprop added.

“I thought they would support me financially, to no avail. Two lawyers I contacted wanted 50,000 pounds ($66,380) each, yet the case will go to appeal and, maybe, CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport). That is a lot of money.

“I will keep speaking against doping, that is why I supported Rosa when Rita (Jeptoo) doped. I don’t regret telling Rita to carry her own cross. But I did not dope. But he (Rosa) has abandoned me.”

Rosa represented Jeptoo when the marathon runner was banned for two years, later increased to four, for testing positive for EPO in 2014. Rosa did not respond to emails for comment.

(This version of the story corrects gender of Barnaba Korir in paragrahps 9 and 10).

Editing by Christian Radnedge

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