Coburn casts doubt on Chepkoech’s world record

  Ostrava, Monday

Beatrice Chepkoech ended her 2018 season in spectacular fashion as she claimed victory in the IAAF Intercontinental Cup in the 3,000m steeplechase in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Sunday.

It has been a season to remember for the 27-year-old whose exploits in Ostrava earned her $30,000 (Sh3 million). Starting in the Paris Diamond League she ran an 8:59.36 Personal Best (PB), then smashed the world record by timing 8:44.32 in Monaco in July. In her next race, she ran 8:59 at the African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria and an 8:55 at the Diamond League final. Total domination. The only hiccup on her season was a 9:15 fifth place finish in Rome in May.

However, not everyone is convinced by her record-breaking season.  Reigning steeplechase world champion Emma Coburn of the United States has expressed doubt that Chepkoech achieved her record cleanly.

When asked by whether she was surprised how far Chepkoech had taken the world record this year—her mark was an eight-second improvement on the previous record—and what fans should think of the record in the light of previous record holder, Ruth Jebet, testing positive for EPO, Coburn said.

“I think it’s important to look at history and look at what happened with Ruth (Jebet) and I do think a woman can run 8:45, but I don’t think a woman can run 8:45 when for a whole season she runs 9 minutes and then runs 8:45. I don’t think that’s really possible. I think 9 minutes is still the holy grail of women’s steeplechase and I think that’s a time, that right under 9 minutes athletes can run clean, so hopefully there’s enough of us to get near that.”

She added: “I shouldn’t comment because there is no proof to prove otherwise, but I think it’s important to look at trends and history of performances and where there’s big outliers we might need to pause.”

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