South Korea to offer citizenship to Kenya marathoner

South Korea to offer citizenship to Kenya marathoner

Wilson Loyanae Ekupe

Wilson Loyanae Ekupe: The South Korean government is planning to offer citizenship to a Kenyan marathon runner who has twice won the Seoul International Marathon and served a two-year doping ban.

Wilson Loyanae Ekupe won the 2012 Seoul race in his personal best time of 2:05:37 before testing positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test, according to the Japan Running News blog. His doping ban began in February of 2013 and lasted until last month. In his first marathon back after the ban the Kenyan again won the Seoul International Marathon on March 15 in 2:06:11.

The South Korean government is reportedly offering the runner citizenship in hopes he can win an Olympic medal in the upcoming 2016 Games in Rio. Athletics Kenya, Ekupe’s current athletic’s governing body, would have to release the athlete if he was going to compete for South Korea, but since the runner isn’t currently a member of Kenya’s national team, it’s expected to go through.

The South Korean newspaper which broke the story failed to mention that the 26-year-old had served a doping ban. Ekupe’s representative is also reportedly a director with the South Korean Athletics Federation.

It’s not uncommon for countries to offer citizenship to athletes who may win them medals at major international sporting competitions. Bahrain and Qatar are two countries who in recent years have offered citizenship to athletes who have shown world-class potential, though they are not the only countries to have done so.

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