Kenyan Marathoner Banned After Testing Positive for Strychnine

  • Kenyan Marathon runner Felix Kiptoo Kirwa has been banned from competition after he tested positive for strychnine, a highly toxic drug commonly known as rat poison.

    The decision was announced by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which stated that Kirwa (23), was ineligible to compete for a period of nine months until November 2019.

    The disciplinary body also announced that the athlete's results would be disqualified from 9 December 2018 to 14 February 2019 with all resulting consequences including the forfeiture of any titles, awards, medals, points and prize and appearance money.

    AIU noted that Kirwa underwent an in-competition doping control in December 2019 at the conclusion of his participation in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, where he finished second.

    After testing, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in New Delhi reported the presence of Strychnine in the sample - it is a specified substance prohibited in-competition.

    Kirwa is said to have admitted to having the substance in his system conveying that the chemical was present due to his use of herbal medicine products including ‘Arthritis Care’ and ‘Goodcare Arthplus’ to treat arthritis prior to the event.

    "Both products contain Strychnos nuxvomica, which contains Strychnine. Strychnine itself is not listed on either product.

    "Following consultation with a scientific expert, the AIU is satisfied that the presence of Strychnine in the Sample is consistent with the Athlete’s ingestion of the herbal medicine products ‘Arthritis Care’ and ‘Goodcare Arthplus’," read a statement from AIU.

    On 14 February 2019, the athlete returned to the AIU, a signed Acceptance of Voluntary Provisional Suspension.

    The body further noted that the athlete’s fault or negligence in his particular circumstances was not significant because of his relative age, inexperience and that the prohibited substance did not expressly appear on the herbal medicine product labels.

    Strychnine is highly toxic and is used as a pesticide, particularly for killing small vertebrates such as birds and rodents. When inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the eyes or mouth, causes poisoning which results in muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia.