Canadian marathoner says he’s not surprised by Kenyan athlete’s suspension

Canadian marathoner says he's not surprised by Kenyan athlete's suspension

On May 16, Kenyan distance runner Nicholas Mboroto Kosimbei, who collected wins at last year’s Cherry Blossom 10-miler and Atlanta Half Marathon, was provisionally suspended for the use of trimetazidine, a blood flow drug that helps the body metabolize fatty acids and use more oxygen. Former Canadian half-marathon record holder Rory Linkletterwho also raced the Atlanta Half, took to Twitter to express some thoughts after Kosimbei’s suspension.

“We raced in Atlanta last year, and [I] was in the best shape of my life, and couldn’t believe how easily he [Kosimbei] smashed that course and those hills,” Linkletter said in a tweet.” It changed the outcome of my race as I went out with him trying to match moves. Not saying I would’ve won, but it’s BS.”

Linkletter finished fifth in 65:08, four spots behind Kosimbei, who took the win in 60:37 on a cold and wet day in Atlanta. Kosimbei was awarded USD $4,000 for his victory, plus an additional $2,500 for setting the state soil record. Linkletter was awarded the fifth-place prize of $750.

When Linkletter saw the AIU sanctions involving Kosimbei, he says he was not surprised. “I am not bitter or upset, but now I wonder what would’ve been a result of a completely clean field,” he says. “When a clean athlete has to be in the same race as a dirty one, it changes everything. It doesn’t just bump them back one spot.”

The 26-year-old Kenyan’s performances go back to 2016, when he clocked at 27:02.59 for 10,000m as a 19-year-old at the Prefontaine Classic. He also earned a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the 2014 U20 World Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Linkletter considers himself an optimist, but he believes the more time you spend in the sport, the easier it gets to guess that someone may be cheating. “I am not saying everyone is dirty, absolutely not. But there are signs,” he says. “As an athlete, you can see what people do and accomplish and know the physical toll of training on your body. When an athlete is doing something that seems unreal, more often than not, it’s because it is.”

According to the Athletics Integrity Unit, there are more than 70 Kenyan athletes serving provisional suspensions or bans. In late 2022, World Athletics and the Kenyan government committed $25 million to the fight against doping in athletics over the next five years.

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“I don’t have a strong opinion; I think a lifelong ban is a good deterrent, but you rarely hear from athletes who serve their suspensions returning to relevance,” says Linkletter. “It’s hard to survive a four-year suspension and get back into races, especially with a reputation of cheating.”

“I am glad that I have never seen anyone cheat, nor have I known anyone personally,” he says. “I love the sport and there are way more good guys than bad guys.”

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