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Rio marathon silver medallist provisionally suspended for EPO

Eunice Kirwa's suspension follows that of disgraced gold medallist Jemima Sumgong

The silver medallist from the 2016 Olympic marathon in Rio, Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain, has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for EPO. The gold medallist in the same event, Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong, is currently serving an eight-year doping suspension.

RELATED: Jemima Sumgong’s doping ban doubled to eight years

Sumgong was initially busted in April 2017, and her four-year suspension was doubled in January because she was suspected of falsifying her records in her defense. (She claimed to have been given EPO in hospital while being treated for an ectopic pregnancy, but the dates she gave did not correspond to hospital records, which showed she was treated after her drug test.) Earlier in 2016, Sumgong had won the London Marathon before going on to win in Rio. Sumgong also received a lifetime ban from the Abbott World Major Marathons.

EPO (erythropoietin) is used to boost the body’s red blood cell production and has been on WADA’s list of banned substances for many years.

Sumgong also failed an earlier drug test in 2012.

LetsRun.com’s Jonathan Gault notes also that Kirwa is married to Joshua Kemei, coach of Abraham Kiptum, who was provisionally suspended for doping in April after setting the world half-marathon record (58:18) in October 2018. Kiptum was supposed to have run this year’s London Marathon but was suspended just days before the race.

RELATED: Half-marathon world record holder suspended from London Marathon

Sumgong was not stripped of her medal, because it could not be proven definitively that she was doping at the time of the marathon.

Sumgong’s winning time in Rio was 2:24:04. Kirwa’s second-place time was 2:24:13.

Shalane Flanagan and Des Linden of the US finished sixth and seventh in the 2016 Olympic marathon.