Is this the fall of Kenya's fastest rising star?

Kenya's Rhonex Kipruto reacts after winning in a past Diamond League competition. [AFP]

Rhonex Kipruto was one of Kenyan youngsters tipped for road racing greatness.

The 10km World Record holder’s career bore the hallmarks of a fast-rising star who would continue the country’s dominance in athletics.

Everything seemed perfect until May 11, 2023 when the 24-year-old star was suspended over suspected irregularities in his Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).

On Wednesday, when the country was still reeling from the sanctioning of a shocking 33 athletes by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) on Tuesday, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) slapped Kipruto with a six-year ban.

The sanction means Kipruto will return to competition from May 2029.

Coached by one of the country’s most adored athletics tactician, Bro Colm O’Connell – an Irish former teacher and missionary who has churned out world beaters and record holders, a brighter future awaited Kipruto as he trained in Iten.

The six year ban was not enough – AIU, in its damning verdict against the Iten-based athlete disqualified his titles from September 2018 to May 2023.

From a World Record to two world medals and a Diamond League race title, a decorated Kipruto has lost a sizable number of  titles in his career.

According to AIU, Kiprotich, who was raised in Kombatich in Elgeyo Marakwet County’s Keiyo South area, has lost the 10km road-running World Record he set in Valencia in 2020, a 10,000m bronze medal in the 2019 World Championships in Doha and 10,000m title in the 2019 Stockholm Diamond League, among several other honours including victories he chalked up in local races.

Some titles bagged before September 2018, however, remain on his wall cabinet.

They include the World Under-20 10,000m gold medal won in Tampere, Finland in July 2018 as well as the UAE Healthy Kidney 10km in New York City, US in April that year.

At 17 years of age, Kipruto placed third in 10km at the 2017 Prague Grand Prix.

Athletes have previously lost prestigious titles after they were found to have violated anti-doping rules.

In December 2022, Pamela Jelimo was awarded a 2012 London Olympic bronze medal after the gold won by Russia's Mariya Savinova was annulled because of an anti-doping rule violation.

In Kipruto’s case, Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia, who is the second fastest man in the distance, will likely be the 10km road World Record holder, if the best mark is taken away from the Kenyan star.

According to a statement released by AIU, Kipruto denied the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) charge, contending that his ABP abnormalities were due to multiple factors such as natural and specific characteristics of his body, various medical conditions, and health conditions.

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