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Kenya's Asbel Kiprop acknowledges failed drug test

Asbel Kiprop of Kenya. Andy Lyons/Getty Images for IAAF

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Former Olympic 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop says he has tested positive for doping and is alleging officials who collected his drug-test sample extorted money from him.

Kiprop wired funds to one of the doping control officers by mobile phone while they were still in his house in Iten, Kenya, collecting his urine sample last November, he said in a statement released via his lawyer Thursday.

The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion said he learned in February the sample tested positive.

"I remain perplexed on how my innocent sample could turn positive on the only time when money was extorted from me," Kiprop said. "It is not beyond my suspicion that my sample turned positive because I might have remitted less money than I was expected to remit."

In a further development track and field's anti-doping unit has confirmed that one of its sample collectors tipped off Asbel Kiprop about the supposedly surprise out-of-competition test which subsequently caught the 2008 Olympic 1500 metre champion with the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO in his system.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said Friday that the doping control officer's actions were "extremely disappointing."

Its statement did not address Kiprop's allegations that the officer also asked for -- and got -- money from him during the test in Kenya in November. It said the IAAF's disciplinary tribunal will determine whether the sample collector's tip-off violated anti-doping rules and rendered the test invalid.

The AIU said three-time world champion Kiprop tested positive for EPO. Kiprop insists he was not guilty of doping.

Kiprop insisted the last time he had received an injection was 2014, stating: "I am told EPO is put into the body using injection. The last time I had an injection was in 2014 when I was given a yellow fever vaccination before travelling to Bahamas for a competition."

Kiprop's failed test deals another damaging blow to Kenya's reputation as a middle- and long-distance running superpower. Dozens of Kenyans have tested positive for an array of doping substances in recent years. They've included big names, among them Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong. Like four other elite Kenyan runners who also failed doping tests, Kiprop worked with Italian agent Federico Rosa. The other four are Sumgong, Rita Jeptoo, Matthew Kisorio and Agatha Jeruto.

Sumgong and Jeptoo tested positive for EPO and were banned for four years. Kisorio and Jeruto tested positive for traces of steroids and were banned for two and four years, respectively.

Rosa said he was "shocked" by the news of Kiprop's failed test.

"It is very, very strange to me after so many years of such an incredible career," Rosa told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Rosa said he was travelling when the story broke and that he has since been trying unsuccessfully to speak to his athlete.