Diana Kipyokei officially stripped of 2021 Boston Marathon title, receives 6-year doping ban

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Boston Marathon

Kipyokei’s urine sample after winning in Boston in October 2021 had traces of triamcinolone acetonide.

Diana Kipyokei had traces of triamcinolone acetonide in her system. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Kenyan marathoner Diana Kipyokei has been banned for six years and stripped of her 2021 Boston Marathon title for doping and tampering, the Athletics Integrity Unit said Tuesday.

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Kipyokei’s urine sample after winning in Boston in October 2021 had traces of triamcinolone acetonide — an anti-inflammatory prohibited at races when an athlete does not have permission to use it as a medication.

The AIU said Kipyokei “provided false/misleading information” in trying to explain her use of the substance, “including fake documentation which she alleged came from a hospital.”

The Boston Athletic Association announced that Kipyokei’s result in the 2021 Boston Marathon has been disqualified, and that Edna Kiplagat of Kenya has been elevated to winner. Kiplagat is now recognized as a two-time Boston winner, having also won in 2017.

It also makes Kiplagat, who was 41 at the time of the race, the oldest Boston winner since Clarence DeMar earned his seventh men’s title in 1930.

The BAA said it plans to honor Kiplagat as the winner, but details have not been released.

Kipyokei is the second Kenyan women’s winner in seven years to have her title taken away. Rita Jeptoo, a three-time champion, had her 2014 victory revoked after testing positive for erythropoietin, a forbidden blood-booster, during an out-of-competition test earlier that year.

Kipyokei, a surprise champion who defeated Kiplagat by 23 seconds, was flagged for using triamcinolone acetonide, a corticosteroid that is prohibited under certain circumstances in competition unless an athlete has an exemption or proof the drug was not employed in a prohibited manner.

Triamcinolone acetonide ordinarily is used topically to clear up skin outbreaks from, for example, eczema, rashes, and allergies. But if taken orally, rectally, or with most injections, it can enhance performance by allowing users to maintain strength while losing weight.

The substance has been implicated in numerous other doping incidents involving Kenyan racersduring the past two years, with 10 athletes testing positive in contrast to two from all other countries.

Kipyokeiwas competing in only her third 26-miler and her first major when she came to Boston for last year’s 125th running.

She was an accomplished half-marathoner who, after winning the Istanbul Marathon the previous November, opted to take on the challenge of the world’s most famous road race on a difficult course.

“I just decided to come and try my luck this year,” Kipyokei said after her Boston victory.

Thirty months had elapsed since the previous race; the 2020 edition was canceled because of the COVID epidemic and the 2021 race postponed until autumn for the first time in history. Five of the six major marathons that year had been shoehorned into six weeks, and since most contenders had raced infrequently if at all, form charts meant little.

For example, the winners of the Berlin Marathon that year, held just days before the Boston race were making their marathon debuts, so it seemed possible a relative unknown could prevail here, too.But Kiplagat, who’d been second in 2019 after her triumph two years earlier, was considered the favorite.

“Edna just knows how to win here,” said former victor Desiree Linden.

But it was Kipyokei who broke away from the pack going into the Newton hills, and she won going away.

“For me it was my great day,” she exulted after leading a Kenyan sweep of the first four places.

Customarily, Kipyokei would have returned for the 2022 race in April to defend her crown, but elected not to come amid unspecified complications with World Athletics.

She has not run a marathon since the 2021 Boston race.

Kipyokei has the has the right to appeal and could take her case to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has ultimate authority.

Information from previous Globe reporting was used in this story.

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