Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa of Bahrain has been handed a four year ban for EPO. Kiraw was the Olympic marathon silver medallist in 2016, finishing in 2:24:13 behind Jemima Jelagat Sumgong who was banned for eight years in January 2019.
Many are now calling the women’s Olmypic marathon of 2016 a similar story to the women’s 1,500m in 2012, as both events have seen a shocking number of athletes banned following the games.
Kirwa had an out-of-competition sample taken on April 1, and on May 7 was notified that there was EPO in her sample. That is the date her ban officially will start, and she will serve four years. The runner has told the AIU that she didn’t dope intentionally and that “She could only assume that the EPO entered her body through contamination during a caudal epidural injection she received on 29 March 2019.”
Kenyan-born Bahraini Eunice Kirwa banned for four years after testing positive for EPO during a doping control exercise in Kapsabet. pic.twitter.com/YJklSUeRHR
— Stanley Sugut (@StanleySugut) June 17, 2019
Sumgong was the first woman from her country (Kenya) to win an Olympic marathon, but the victory was short-lived. Sumgong failed an out-of-competition drug test in early 2017 and that fall was handed a four-year ban by the Kenya Anti-Doping Agency, retroactive to April, which meant she would not be able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 or in the next two world championships. Sumgong was also banned from competing in any of the Abbott World Major Marathons for life.
In January 2019 the runner received an additional four year ban as punishment for providing false information in her defense. She is now banned until April 2025.