Statement by Jan Krabec, Rhonex’s lawyer

Counsel’s Statement dated 04/06/2024

As Rhonex Kipruto's legal counsel, I express our profound disappointment with the recent decision by the Disciplinary Tribunal. Despite exhaustive efforts to present comprehensive medical evidence and expert testimonies, the ruling failed to consider crucial aspects of Rhonex’s health and circumstances.

Throughout this ordeal, Rhonex has consistently maintained his innocence. His Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) flagged abnormalities that were never indicative of prohibited substances but rather pointed towards physiological conditions and the Athlete’s lifestyle. Our team, including esteemed experts such as Dr. de Boer, Prof. Cermak and Dr. Bohonek conducted extensive investigations to uncover the effects of lifestyle circumstances and underlying medical issues affecting Rhonex's blood parameters. 

One of the significant challenges we faced was the timing and scope of medical examinations. Several tests and studies, vital for a thorough defense and requested by our expert team, were still either pending or incomplete by the time of the hearing. This premature push requiring us to submit the Athlete’s Answer Brief and attend the Hearing without finalized medical evaluation unjustly prejudiced Rhonex's defense. It is necessary to add that we have offered to agree on mutually acceptable terms of suspension of the disciplinary proceedings, and - in our view - the justice required so. For avoidance of doubts, no prejudice would be caused to AIU as the Athlete was provisionally suspended.

Moreover, in today’s world, finding qualified experts with the proper experience, expertise, and sufficient time available is incredibly difficult. Many experts had to decline involvement due to their prior engagements with anti doping bodies or agencies. The constraints on available expertise significantly hindered our ability to build a robust defense in time.

Moreover, the alcohol study, designed to explore the impact of Rhonex's acknowledged alcohol use on his blood values, was conducted with transparency and scientific rigor. For avoidance of doubts, Rhonex well understood what was being done and was fully informed throughout the process, for which he signed paperwork in English, translated into Swahili to ensure his understanding. 

We have brought the idea of longitudinal study to AIU already in late 2022. Since then, we have repeatedly offered to align with AIU on the methodology of the study so that it would not be disputed. We have even anticipated and stated in writing that the silence over such an alignment and the unwillingness to discuss the mutually acceptable protocol would be detrimental to finding a just case for Rhonex.  Unfortunately, we were correct. The study's findings were not adequately integrated into the tribunal’s considerations. Such an omission, along with other errors and factual inaccuracies, significantly undermined the fairness of the decision.

Our disappointment extends to the tribunal's reliance on the expert panel that must have established that the alleged Anti Doping Rules Violation was committed to the comfortable satisfaction of the panel, bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation that has been made. We believe this has not been established and  - to the contrary - the evidence presented by the Athlete until and on the Hearing shows, on the balance of probabilities, that the fluctuations in the ABP were caused by the cofactors presented in his defense. 

In other words, the case against Rhonex was built on misinterpreted ABP data, ignoring the broader context of his medical condition and lifestyle.

Furthermore, the decision is built on factual errors, incl. the misinterpretation of the Valencia sample collection time. This error was corrected by our team as early as June 2022, yet it was incorrectly incorporated into the final ruling. Errors like these contributed to “distillation” of non-existent doping scenarios and hurt Rhonex.

Additionally, the panel disregarded critical evidence from Lancet tests showing elevated values, indicating liver damage. Had these liver damage levels been known and factored into each ABP sample in real-time, more accurate conclusions could have been drawn. Instead, decisions were made without complete data, compromising the integrity of the decision.

Also, the inability to measure the EPO levels for each ABP sample in real-time severely limited our ability to draw accurate conclusions. If EPO levels had been part of the ABP analysis, it would have provided a clearer understanding of the variations in Rhonex’s blood parameters. How can definitive conclusions be drawn without such crucial data?

Our appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) aims to correct these injustices. The financial burden of this prolonged legal battle is immense, and we are actively seeking support to fund the appeal process. Contributions will not only aid in securing justice for Rhonex but also help protect the integrity of clean athletes worldwide.

We urge supporters to stand with Rhonex in this fight for truth and justice. Your support is invaluable as we continue to challenge this decision and clear Rhonex's name.

I hope that in time my medical diagnosis will be clear both for myself and for this case. I don't cheat or dope! The truth is on my side. This is all I can say.

Rhonex Kipruto

22 April 2024


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