Kenya's Titus Ekiru, sixth fastest man in history in the marathon, is facing a potential 10-year ban after receiving a provisional suspension for doping, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Monday.
Ekiru has two marathon wins to his name. including victory in Milan in May 2021 in the exceptionally fast time of 2hr 2min 57sec.
The 31-year-old tested positive for triamcinolone acetonide, a glucocorticoid, after winning in Milan, "but was not immediately charged after the initial investigation appeared to validate his explanation that the result was due to legitimate medical treatment".
The athlete tested positive for pethidine after winning in Abu Dhabi in November, 2021, and again claimed the outcome resulted from legitimate medical treatment. He has not raced since then.
"Following initial investigations into that matter – and given the emergence of a pattern of triamcinolone acetonide use among Kenyan athletes – the AIU re-opened the investigation into Ekiru's first case," the AIU said.
Ekiru was provisionally suspended last month, "pending the outcome of both wide-ranging investigations which included crucial collaboration with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) and other Kenyan authorities".
That led to the AIU rejecting Ekiru's explanations, charging him with two doping charges and then asserting that the Kenyan has "cases to answer for tampering with the results-management processes by submitting falsified medical explanations and documentation to the AIU for both positive tests".
This means the elite marathoner is facing a potential 10-year ban, the AIU said.