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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Lagat fails drugs test
Bernard Lagat
Lagat took a silver medal at the 2001 World Championships
Kenyan middle-distance star Bernard Lagat has been suspended after testing positive for the banned substance Erythropoietin (EPO), Athletics Kenya has confirmed.

Lagat, a bronze medallist in the 1500m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, did not compete in the event at the Paris World Championships, with illness given as the reason for his absence.

But Athletics Kenya secretary general David Okeyo has revealed he received a letter from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) informing him that Lagat had failed a drugs test.

"He tested positive to EPO on 8 August after running a race somewhere in Germany," Okeyo said on Wednesday.

"We received the report on 22 August (at the world championships) in Paris but we decided to keep it a secret in order not to affect our team.

"As of now, he is provisonally suspended pending the result of the B test."

The IAAF refused to comment on the situation.

Lagat, 29, took 1500m silver at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton and was considered the only genuine challenger to eventual gold medallist Hicham El Guerrouj in Paris.

Okeyo said Athletics Kenya would be making a full response on Thursday.

"Lagat is one of the most eloquent and well-versed athletes and is the least of those athletes you would suspect, especially when it comes to delicate matters such as drugs," he added.

In June, Athletics Kenya banned cross-country runner Pamela Chepchumba for two years after two blood samples taken during the world cross-country championships in March tested positive.

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