A bad Bett – Kenyan runner faces four-year ban for failed drug test

Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong, the first woman to win Olympic gold in the marathon for Kenya, was banned for four years for EPO use last November after a tribunal rejected her explanation that the hormone was in her system because she underwent treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. There was no record of her hospital visit. Sumgong’s failed test was in February 2017, after her gold at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, meaning she was not stripped of the medal. The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya said it believed she was taking EPO ahead of the defence of her London Marathon title in April 2017. The recent high-profile cases rebut Kenyan track authorities’ claim that their top athletes are clean and doping is confined to lesser-known runners. The 800m World Championships bronze medallist Kipyegon Bett faces a four-year ban after the Kenyan runner tested positive for the blood-booster EPO, having already been suspended and charged with evading a doping check. The failed test was announced by the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for the IAAF. The 20-year-old Bett, World junior champion in 2016, was suspended two weeks ago for “refusing or failing to submit” to a doping test. He now faces a ban of 12 months after he won bronze at the London worlds. Bett is the fourth Kenyan to face doping charges since the start of the year and another high-profile athlete from the East African distance-running powerhouse to test positive for EPO. Kenya’s track and field reputation has been seriously damaged by the upsurge in doping cases in recent years, which has been accompanied by multiple incidents of corruption in the anti-doping system. In one of the latest cases, Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic champion and three-time world champion over 1500m, is facing a disciplinary tribunal after being charged with using EPO. His case revealed that a doping officer tipped him off beforehand about the supposedly secret drug test and received money from Kiprop. Other Kenyans facing doping charges include former 10,000m Commonwealth champion Lucy Wangui (morphine) and 2017 Athens Marathon winner Samuel Kalalei (EPO). Ruth Jebet, the Kenya-born 3,000m steeplechase prodigy who won gold at the 2016 Olympics at the age of 19, was also suspended this year and charged with using EPO. Jebet, who runs for Bahrain, won the Asian senior title at the age of 16 and broke the world record when she was 19. Sumgong banned for four years

Rockets are gearing up for postseason tourneys

BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer The Raritan High School wrestling team is rolling along with a 9-3 mark thanks to eight competitors who have 10 or more wins apiece. The Rockets are sitting in first place in their conference and are also looking forward to defending their NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II tourney. T.J. Mitchell (10-2 at 103 pounds); Billy Voutsinas (12-3, 112); Phil O’Hara (11-3, 119); Dave Seidenberg (14-1, 125); Kevin Whalen (12-4, 135); Shawn Putnam (13-2, 140); Rich Bryant (12-4, 215); and Jeff King (13-2, heavyweight) are all having outstanding seasons for coach Rob Nucci. In addition, Chris Rafalco is 9-7 at 130 pounds and Jason Sagos is 9-3 competing in the 145-pound division. “We’ve had good consistency throughout the lineup,” Nucci said. “So many guys have stepped up and they’re finding ways to get the job done.” The coach also praised four juniors who have held their own in some of the upper weight classes: Jim Shields (152 pounds), Kevin Gilgannon (160), Anthony Kinzel (171) and Jim Curry (189). And if that isn’t enough, Raritan has received strong contributions from several other grapplers who are likely to play prominent roles in coming seasons, Nucci said. They include junior Stephen Ip, sophomores Greg Alexander, Kevin Moore and Bobby Kolb, as well as freshmen Bob Hornacek and John Boyle. Moore is 5-2 competing mainly at 119 pounds; Hornacek is 5-1 in action at 112 pounds, and Boyle is 3-3 at 189 pounds. Raritan is coming off a tough quad-meet on Saturday, when the Rockets downed both Toms River North and Pinelands but lost to CBA in the final match. “That was disappointing, but our guys wrestled well,” Nucci said. “We have a lot of wrestling ahead of us and we’re anxious to get going in the state tournament. We just can’t look too far ahead, as we’ve got a few more matches left.” Raritan will visit Howell to compete against the host team and Central Regional on Saturday, and will host St. John Vianney on Feb. 9. Mat notes… All eyes will be on Southern Regional this weekend as teams vie for the Shore Conference Tournament championship. The SCT seeding meeting was Monday night, which determines the top 16 teams that will compete for the team title. Division winners receive automatic entry, but the committee has the say in the seeding. First-round action is slated for later today as the top four seeds will play host to three teams each in the opening and quarterfinal rounds. The winners of the first two bouts will match up in the next round. The SCT semifinals and finals will be held on Saturday at Southern. Among the local teams hoping to make some noise in the SCT are Raritan, Middletown North and CBA. The Lions have been a steady team throughout the campaign, while the Colts have been coming on strong lately, with wins over Howell and Raritan last week. Ocean Township is the likely top seed, followed by Jackson, Southern and Wall. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Balanced squad hoping to collect more hardware