Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) has slapped a 4-year ban on Rwandan Olympian Robert Kajuga for refusing a doping test.
The 31-year-old athlete represented Rwanda in the 10,000 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London where he finished 14th.
Rwanda Athletics Federation secretary general Johnson Rukundo confirmed the news which he described as a surprise.
“We were also surprised to see the letter indicating that the athlete is banned for four years because he refused to be tested.”
“The athlete did not refuse to be tested, but informed RADO, that he had just done a test in Nairobi, Kenya, and he was preparing for a competition,” Rukundo told Times Sport.
However, Rukundo noted that athletes should understand that they have to be tested at any time since the agency comes specifically for a particular athlete at any time.
But the “good news”, the official said, is that the athlete has appealed and a hearing is expected this week.
Rukundo added, “We are also waiting for the outcome of the appeal. We cannot send him to any competition because he is currently blacklisted.”
According to a letter from RADO, the long-distance runner failed to turn up for a random test in May last year before the Kigali International Peace Marathon.
In that same month, the International Association of the Athletics Federation (IAAF) had requested the Rwanda National Olympic and SportsCommunity RNOSC for the athlete to be tested before the event.
The Olympian, who had just recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon that threatened his career, claims he had been in Nairobi earlier.
“I never refused to be tested. I had just completed the test in Kenya,” Kajuga said.
Last weekend Kajuga won the 15km Nyanza Peace Race in Nyanza town after clocking 45 minutes, 33 seconds and 70 microseconds.
He noted, “Before the marathon, I was nursing an injury; I was not aware of any test, only to be surprised when I was asked to carry out one. I was surprised by the letter from the anti-doping agency that they have banned me.
I have appealed, and I am waiting for a chance to defend myself before the agency.”
Efforts to speak to the Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee were futile as RNOSC vice president, Phophine Muhimpundu, who is in charge of overseeing the test, is reported to be in Nairobi where she is attending an anti-doping workshop.
The Director of Sports in the Ministry of Sports and Culture, Emmanuel Bugingo, said the ministry is aware of the ban but declined to comment further on the issue.
Kajuga’s ban is the first in the history of Rwanda athletics, and it comes at a time when several athletics powerhouses like Kenya, Russia and Ethiopia are in the spotlight over doping cases.
The IAAF, with support from the World Marathon Majors, plans to open a new international testing facility in Nairobi to assist regional countries in the fight against doping.