Concerns grow for Wilson Kipsang's well-being

By Celestine KaroneyBBC Sport Africa, Nairobi
Wilson Kipsang
Kipsang won the Berlin Marathon in 2013, London in 2012 and 2014, New York in 2014 and Tokyo in 2017

Concerns are growing from friends and the public for the well-being of Kenyan marathon ace Wilson Kipsang.

The former marathon world record holder appeared to be drunk during a TV interview about his recent four-year ban from athletics.

Kipsang, who is a policeman, is yet to respond to BBC Sport Africa's request for a comment about his TV appearance.

Elias Kiptum, a friend of Kipsang's, told BBC Sport Africa he is concerned about the athlete.

"He's tried to control his stress by drinking and this is what it has become a worry to us," he said.

"On his live interview on TV, personally I arrived when the show was already done and if I were to advise to him, I would have requested him not to do the interview in that state.

"I think the biggest issue is not about him listening but that he has gotten himself in with his friends who are more about drinking.

"We've really been engaging him on this and we have had discussions with him that he should really try to minimise his drinking and he is always positive but then seems to go back to where where he was.

"So, you have a discussion, but he goes back in the end to drinking but for the last few days after he was banned he has been staying at home he hasn't been drinking and we are hoping things will go in that direction."

The latest incident comes after his arrest with 20 others in April for locking themselves in a bar and drinking alcohol in breach of a curfew imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kipsang's ban was imposed on 3 July this year for missing four out-of-competition drugs tests.

World Athletics said between April 2018 and May 2019 the 38-year-old Kenyan, twice a London Marathon winner, had missed four "whereabouts appointments".

Kiptum admitted he understood the pressure his friend is under.

"It is worrying that he was involved in this scenario of whereabouts missing," he continued.

"I have known him for a long time. He is really a gentleman but this one will impact him negatively and on other upcoming athletes who perhaps don't understand what it means to miss whereabouts tests.

Wilson Kipsang
Kipsang and 20 others were arrested in April for locking themselves in a bar and drinking alcohol in breach of a curfew imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic

"Most of those who don't run and perhaps maybe the international community make a presumption that maybe all top Kenyan runners are dopers it produces a negative impact on the outside world."

During his live interview on a Kenyan television channel, Kipsang appeared to slur his words, struggle to be fully coherent and even leaned on the interviewer for support as he was unstable on his feet.

His Netherlands-based management company, Volare, also have worries.

"As management we regret seeing what happened on national TV," the company told BBC Sport Africa.

"Yes, we are concerned about that, but it's hard to control or manage when the distance is so big."

Volare also added they are still not sure whether Kipsang will be taking an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In response to the video which was posted online, some members of the public also expressed their concerns.

"Deeply disturbed to see this legend brother hitting the drink this hard," one person wrote.

"He has achieved so much.... Look at the bright side of life. You are a legend. Don't be destroyed by the drink like most people.

"History could charge you harshly. Remember you are a role model in the society. I will pray for you."

The 38-year-old broke the marathon world record in September 2013 in Berlin and held the mark for a year until his compatriot Dennis Kimetto went faster a year later in the same race.