NAIROBI, Kenya-A Nairobi court on Thursday cleared Italian Coach, Claudio Barardelli and two co-accused of administering banned substance Erythropoietin (EPO) on disgraced female marathoner, Rita Jeptoo.
In a ruling delivered at the Milimani Law Courts, Berardelli was exonerated from charges of conspiring to injure the profession of Jeptoo- originally a three-time winner at Boston and twice champion at Chicago marathons- who is serving a four-year international ban for EPO use.
The court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Barardelli and his co-accused administered the proscribed blood-booster leading to the dismissal of the case.
Barardelli, 37, was charged along with a pharmacist based in Kapsabet, Stephen ‘Kalya’ Kiplagat Tanui and his assistant coach at the time; Daniel Cheribo Kiplangat of conspiring to injure the athlete’s profession by administering the banned substance.
Kiplagat was however, found guilty of running a pharmacy without a name and displayed certificate as well as two other criminal counts.
Jeptoo was banned for four years after failing a drugs test on September 25, 2014 with the 35 year-old testing positive for the performance enhancing drug in an out of competition soon after her ‘defence’ of her Chicago crown.
Athletics Kenya initially handed her a two-year ban for the offence, but world athletics governing body IAAF appealed to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) seeking a longer sanction that was granted last year.
“The panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that the athlete used rEPO over a period of time to enhance performance. The undisputed source of the rEPO found in her sample of 25 September 2014 was an injection given to her by a doctor.
“The athlete provided various differing accounts of the circumstances leading up to the injection and also regarding her relationship with that doctor.
“According to the applicable rules, the minimum period of ineligibility in this situation is a sanction of two years but can be increased to up to four years in the case of aggravating circumstances.
“The panel is comfortably satisfied that there are aggravating circumstances in the case at hand as it was obvious to the panel that the athlete used rEPO as part of a scheme or plan,” the CAS ruling against Jeptoo delivered on October 26, 2016 read in part as her results from April 17, 2013 were annulled.
In acquitting Berardelli from the doping charges, Milimani Courts Senior Principal Magistrate; Kennedy Kipkurui Cheruiyot, quoted the CAS ruling in agreeing with the defence that Jeptoo’s evidence was contradictory in finding no evidence the Italian and his co-accused had injected her with EPO.
Her former coach was arrested on July 5, 2016 in Eldoret before being transferred to Nairobi and held in custody for a week before he was released on a KSh200,000 on July 12.
As soon as the news was published, some of the athletes under his care including Seoul Marathon champion, Amos Kipruto, who will compete at this weekend’s Amsterdam Marathon, hailed the verdict.
“God is great always,” Kipruto who is pictured alongside Berardelli in the photo above wrote on Facebook.
“He was innocent,” training partner, Hillary Maiyo added with another, Marius Kipserem posting, “God is good always, jealousy always destroys lives. Thank you Claudio.”