Titus Ekiru, the Kenyan athlete who won the Milan marathon in May 2021, has been handed a ten-year suspension by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for doping and obstructing an investigation. The 31-year-old tested positive for a banned substance following his surprising victory in Milan, where he completed the marathon in an impressive time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 57 seconds. Another positive test occurred in November of the same year during the Abu Dhabi marathon, as confirmed by the AIU.
Ekiru had claimed that his abnormal test results were due to legitimate medical treatment for his injuries. Despite being a relatively unknown athlete, his remarkable Milan performance equaled the previous world record held by his compatriot Denis Kimetto (2h02:57) from 2014, a record subsequently broken twice by Eliud Kipchoge (in 2018 and 2022) and ultimately surpassed by Kelvin Kiptum on October 8 in Chicago (2h00:35).
The suspension, which confirms Ekiru’s provisional suspension from June 28, 2022, results from his use of triamcinolone acetonide, a substance prohibited since January 2022, and pethidine, a narcotic. He will be ineligible to compete until 2032.
Furthermore, the AIU has stripped Ekiru of his titles and all achievements since the Milan race, including any prizes won. The investigation revealed deliberate efforts by Ekiru to obstruct the AIU’s inquiry and collusion with a doctor at a Kenyan hospital. Consequently, the AIU has requested the Kenyan Anti-Doping Agency (ADAK) to refer the doctor to the country’s law enforcement for further investigation.
These developments underscore Kenya’s ongoing struggle with doping cases, which have cast a shadow over its reputation as a dominant force in athletics. Over the past five years, nearly 70 athletes, primarily long-distance runners, have faced bans for doping-related offenses.