NAIROBI - Kenya has banned three marathon runners for doping offences, including the first case of a Kenyan athlete using the banned blood booster EPO, the country's national athletics body (AK) said.
Wilson Loyanae Erupe, who won the 2012 Seoul marathon in a course record of 2:05:6, and Nixon Kiplagat were each suspended for two years, while Moses Kiptoo Kurgat received a one-year ban.
Erupe tested positive for EPO, or erythropoietin, in an out-of-competition test conducted last year, the first Kenyan athlete to be caught using the bannned drug hormone which increases the red blood cell count.
Kiplagat tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone, after competing in a race in Mexico.
Charges were dropped against a fourth runner, Francis Kibiwott, who represented Kenya at the 2007 World Half Marathon in Udine, Italy, finishing 45th.
"These cases were brought to us by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). We took the right step by suspending them first, pending investigations," AK secretary David Okeyo told AFP.
"The athletes' A and B samples returned positive results for the banned substance abuse."
A recent series of doping cases has sparked concern in the east Africa nation, whose runners are held up as national heroes.
However, Okeyo said it does not mean Kenya faces a full blown doping problem.
"We have nothing to hide," he said. "As soon as we establish any athlete has doped, we shall expose them.