The Kenyan marathon runner tested positive for EPO in 2014 and is now suspended until 2018 after a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo has had a two-year doping suspension extended until 2018 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favour of an appeal by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Jeptoo, a three-time winner of the Boston Marathon and twice a winner in Chicago, will be stripped of the titles won in each of the major city marathons in 2014 and all results as of April 17, 2014, and is banned until October 30, 2018.

The 35-year-old underwent an out-of-competition drugs test on September 25, 2014, and was found to have tested positive for EPO (rEPO) on October 24, 2014, just 12 days after winning in Chicago.

Jeptoo had initially been handed the minimum two-year suspension by Athletics Kenya (AK), which was due to finish at the end of October, but CAS said it had upheld the IAAF’s appeal to impose a four-year ban due to “aggravating circumstances” surrounding Jeptoo’s continued relationship with a doctor said to have injected her with the banned substance.

“In coming to its decision, the panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that the athlete used rEPO over a period of time to enhance performance. The undisputed source of the rEPO found in her sample of 25 September 2014 was an injection given to her by a doctor. The athlete provided various differing accounts of the circumstances leading up to the injection and also regarding her relationship with that doctor,” read the CAS verdict.

“The panel is comfortably satisfied that there are aggravating circumstances in the case at hand as it was obvious to the panel that the athlete used rEPO as part of a scheme or plan. The evidence for this includes inter alia her long relationship with the doctor in question, her multiple visits to see him, that her rEPO use was consistent with her competition calendar, that she hid the visits to the doctor in question from her manager and coach, as well as her deceptive and obstructive conduct throughout the proceedings. Weighing all the evidence, the panel is comfortably satisfied that the circumstances warrant a period of ineligibility of four years.”

An initial CAS hearing was due to take place in April, 2016, but was postponed as Jeptoo’s legal counsel withdrew before the hearing was set to take place. Jeptoo’s new counsel confirmed on May 3, 2016, its availability and a date for the hearing was set for July 7, 2016.

To date, Jeptoo is the most high-profile Kenyan athlete to have tested positive for banned substances and is among 40 of the country’s athletes to have been caught for using performance-enhancing drugs since 2011.

The Kenyan government fast-tracked legislation to bring into action the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) earlier this year after its country was declared “non-compliant” with the World Anti-Doping Agency Code.