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Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet banned for four years

Ruth Jebet

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 15: Ruth Jebet of Bahrain competes in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase final on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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Kenyan-born Bahrain runner Ruth Jebet, who won the women’s 3,000m steeplechase in the 2016 Olympics, has been banned for four years for an anti-doping violation.

Jebet’s ban is retroactive to Feb. 4, 2018, when she was provisionally suspended after testing positive for recombinant erythropoietin (r-EPO). Her Olympic gold medal is not affected.

The case before the Athletes Integrity Unit took more than two years to resolve, with accusations against an outside party and a change of lawyers delaying a decision.

Jebet was first represented by a law firm that said a physiotherapist gave her a package to take home and later advised to get an injection for hamstring pain. She was tested the next day.

The physiotherapist denied giving her a package or advising her to get an injection. Jebet’s law firm said in October 2018 that it would attempt to gather evidence to support her claims, but after several months went by, the firm simply stopped representing her.

With a new lawyer in place, Jebet admitted the use of r-EPO but asked for a lenient punishment, claiming she was not at fault.

The AIU stuck with a four-year ban, saying her accusations didn’t fit the available evidence. The AIU’s panel also found some inconsistencies in Jebet’s testimony and said she failed to disclose the injection or admit fault in a timely manner.

Jebet held the steeplechase world record for nearly two years. The previous record of of 8:58.81, the first time under nine minutes, was set by Gulnara Samitova-Galkina in the 2008 Olympic final. Jebet took six seconds off that time in Paris in August 2016, 12 days after she took gold in Rio. Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech took another eight seconds off the record with a time of 8:44.32 in Monaco in July 2018.

Chepkoech was fourth in the 2016 Olympics behind Jebet, Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi and U.S. runner Emma Coburn.

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