Doping tests for elite top 10 finishers

The elite field at tomorrow's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore will face the most stringent doping tests at the event yet.

Singapore Athletics (SA), which sanctions the race, announced yesterday that it will take the unprecedented step of testing all top-10 male and female finishers.

Formerly, organisers had to randomly test only six male and six female athletes out of the top-10 prize winners of each category.

Tang Weng Fei, president of SA, said the move was a strong signal to the athletics community here that the association is committed to upholding the international reputation of the 14-year-old event.

The sport has been embroiled in a major doping and corruption scandal, which has seen Russia suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The world governing body has also launched a probe into doping in Kenya, a giant in endurance events.

"Any financial commitment on our part, regardless of amount, is deemed insignificant if it can help us ensure that doping does not occur in our race," said Tang.

He revealed that the SAA is absorbing all the additional costs associated with the new testing requirement - which is "no more than $10,000".

"Moving forward, we shall decide as an association how we will manifest and operationalise this stand in future editions of any events that we sanction," he added.

Top runners taking part in Sunday's race expressed support for more stringent doping tests.

They also called for harsher penalties as a deterrent.

"Doping tests are good, they help to uphold the integrity of the sport," said Evans Cheruiyot, 33, at a pre-race press conference yesterday. The Kenyan is the favourite to win the men's marathon.

His compatriot, Sharon Cherop, agreed, saying: "The few who use drugs have spoiled the name of all athletes who run clean.

"There should be harsher penalties, such as bans of up to 10 years, for those who are caught."

The 31-year old, who won the SCMS women's title in 2013, is favoured to repeat that success tomorrow. She was the winner of the 2012 Boston Marathon and holds a personal best of 2:22:28, clocked during the Berlin Marathon in 2013.

In the men's field, Cheruiyot, who has a PB of 2:06:25 set when he won the 2008 Chicago Marathon, is looking to make a strong comeback after being plagued by injury over the last three years.

He won the Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands in April and said he is "doing his best" to continue his winning streak.

Leading the local charge will be Mok Ying Ren, 27, and last year's third-place finisher, Ramesh Palaniandy, 40.

Mok, who has been training in the United States, had suffered a freak eye injury in October and had returned to Singapore to recuperate.

Last night, he confirmed that his eye condition "was stable and I am able to run".

Some 50,000 runners from 111 nationalities will be taking part in the various races this weekend.

The Kids Dash, which is for participants up to 13 years old, takes place this morning at 7.30am.

The marathon will flag off tomorrow at 5am along Orchard Road.

The 21km race (6.30am) starts at Sentosa while the 10km run (7.15am) begins at Esplanade Drive.

This article was first published on Dec 5, 2015.
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