Asbel Kiprop’s meltdown is another sad lesson on how we treat our heroes

By Kimathi Kamau: Sunday, September 2nd 2018 at 15:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Kenya's Asbel Kiprop celebrates after winning the men's 1500m race during the Diamond League Athletics meeting Weltklasse on September 3, 2015, Zurich [Courtesy]

Google the name Asbel Kiprop and the first thing you come across are highlights of the latest sordid details of a life that is imploding right before our very eyes.

This is in sharp contrast to say a similar search three years ago that would have yielded reports on his third successive gold medal at the Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships in Athletics where he retained his men 1500m title in 3:34.40.

Sample the list of top content that appears on the world’s most popular search engine when you enter the name ‘Asbel Kiprop’ on the pane.

‘Asbel got my wife drunk then took advantage of her, claims husband’, ‘Nancy Rotich: Woman in Asbel’s video attempts suicide’ and ‘Jeff Koinange’s advice to Asbel Kiprop after explicit video went viral’ among others with the name of the athlete who was known as the ‘Kaptinga Express’ in his prime returning over 286,000 results on Google.

Koinange, one of the country’s most recognisable television personalities, knows a thing or two about famous people embroiled in sexual scandals and his counsel to the Beijing 2008 Olympic champion was simple yet telling.

“I personally think Asbel Kiprop needs help, he is trying to reach out. Many people don’t want to talk about what they are going through.

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“Be careful with the friends you hang out with, find someone you can talk to no matter who bad the situation,” the TV host wrote on Twitter in a post that was shared widely on various social media platforms.

To recap briefly, a seemingly inebriated Kiprop, who has been suspended from running and charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the IAAF after testing positive for banned blood booster, EPO, appeared in a video that was uploaded on Facebook and shared on WhatsApp.

Shot using a smartphone, the shocking images that no self-respecting person should ever share on social media showed the star athlete fondling a lady who was later revealed as the wife of his friend and pacemaker, Andrew Rotich.

The woman in question, Nancy Rotich, a nominated Member of County Assembly was later alleged to have ingested pesticide after the lurid video where her modesty was exposed lit up the Internet on Tuesday morning.

As if the explicit video and the attempted suicide of its most vulnerable victim were not terrible enough, Kiprop and Rotich exchanged a series of disturbing posts on social media that painted a sadder picture of a national icon on meltdown.

Reproducing samples here would be exacerbating a tragic situation but the crux of the acerbic content, some that have thankfully been pulled down saw Kiprop accuse his friend of ‘fixing’ him to the AIU and thereby, effectively ending his career when the damaging doping charges were confirmed in May.

In exacting his revenge, the three-time World Cross gold winner called Rotich to inform him he would expose the graphic video triggering the sequence of events that left the country and indeed the world stunned.

Rotich, on the other hand, vowed to press on having also been accused of trying to get back at Kiprop with Sammary Cherotich, a former World Youth champion who is married to the latter.  

In the aftermath of the latest explosive display of a superstar crumbling at the same public stage where he made his name having announced his coming as a precocious teenager in 2007, winning the World Cross junior 8km and All Africa Games 1500m titles, those familiar with Kiprop have expressed fear over his welfare.

“To be honest, he cannot be stopped and all efforts we have made to reach out to him have not worked. We can only sit and watch but we will keep trying,” one of his role models and Sydney 2000 Olympics gold winner, Noah Ngeny said.

Others who do not wish to be quoted paint a grim picture of someone who is on the first lane to self-ruin saying Kiprop is another national sporting tragedy in waiting.

“When we read reports in the media about the troubles Samuel Wanjiru was going through in his life, we did nothing as a society. When he died at a tender age, we all rushed to expose the affairs and other excesses he was involved in.

Asbel celebrates crossing the finish line first in a past ace [Courtesy]

“As a nation, we forgot what he did for Kenya when his focus was in the right place. At the Beijing Olympics, he made us all wake early in the morning to cheer him on as he won our first ever men’s marathon gold,” a national coach who has worked with Kiprop for years rued.

“Now we are sitting still and watching as another athlete who has brought so much to this country is going the same way.

“Will we wait for the worst to happen then run stories of all he did wrong and shed tears?” the trainer posed.

Incidentally, Kiprop was among the last people to see Wanjiru alive on that dark May 15, 2011, the day when the two-time Chicago and London winner left their Federico Rosa training camp in Kaptagat to travel to Nyahururu before passing on later that night under circumstances that are under investigations.

“We fail to realise these athletes are our national treasures and like anyone else, especially when they are young and make a lot of money, they are prone to excesses.

“As a society, we need to protect them from falling into the destructive path,” the coach added.

Drugs and sex

Just like Wanjiru, Kiprop is a Kenya Police Service officer and the force has been mum on the latest breakdown of their star officer while Athletics Kenya has not issued any response to the revolving drama.

One wonders if troubled England football star, Paul Gascoigne, whose litany of woes since his heyday in the mid-90s can fill an almanack, the latest indiscretion being arrested on Friday for touching a woman on a train.

The 51-year-old troubled midfielder was held at Durham railway station by cops from British Transport Police after the woman alleged he touched her inappropriately.

Intensive therapy and other interventions from the game, authorities and his friends in Britain have kept the sickly former Tottenham and Rangers alive following a string of near-death experiences.

His recovery from near total collapse has seen Gascoigne now turn to help other troubled stars, including disturbed television star and fellow Geordie (from Newcastle), Ant McPartlin.

Gascoigne advised McPartlin, 42, that he can only beat his demons if he visits the US centre that helped him at the height of his alcohol addiction.

The retired midfielder attended the £6,000 (Sh 782,681.31) a week Meadows Rehab Centre in Arizona, US, which helps people suffering from addiction to drink, drugs and sex.

“Paul claims this is the place that saved his life. He truly believes that had he not attended here, he would have died,” a friend to the star told the Daily Star this week.

Kiprop would do with such help.

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