Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo has had her doping ban doubled to four years and been disqualified from the Boston marathon she won in 2014, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Wednesday, effectively bringing her career to an end.
"Deceptive and obstructive"
The world sports tribunal said there were aggravating circumstances including Jeptoo's "deceptive and obstructive" behaviour, which warranted doubling the original ban against the 2014 Chicago and Boston Marathon winner.
The marathon titles were taken away from Jeptoo, now 35, who was also ordered to pay 15,000 Swiss francs (13,850 euros) in legal costs to the world athletics body, the IAAF.
The IAAF had appealed to the CAS to get the ban extended against Jeptoo who was revealed to have failed a test for the blood-doping EPO drug on October 24, 2014, 12 days after winning the Chicago Marathon.
Jeptoo "used rEPO over a period of time"
"The panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that the athlete used rEPO over a period of time to enhance performance," said a CAS statement.
It added that there was "undisputed" proof that the substance had been injected 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."
The CAS judges said they were "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."
rEPO use "consistent with competition calendar"
The judges highlighted Jeptoo's "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."
Jeptoo's lawyer withdrew from defending her and Athletics Kenya also did not take part in the hearing.
"I hope I will return to the marathon soon"
Jeptoo, who won the Boston race three times, said last week she hoped to return to elite competition. "I have returned to serious training with the hope that I will return to the marathon soon," Jeptoo told AFP expressing optimism about the CAS verdict.
The Erythropoietin (EPO) hormone, which stimulates red blood cell production to delay fatigue, is now one of the most common doping substances being found in athletes.