Bookmakers are concentrating on the men’s race in this year’s London Marathon as the market for the women’s race has been thrown into chaos after defending champion, Jemima Sungong, failed a drugs test.
The 32-year-old from Kenya returned a positive result for erythropoietin (EPO) in an out-of-competition test in her homeland in February and it has been confirmed she will not defend her London title this week.
Sumgong overcame a fall in last year’s London Marathon to claim the title and continued a memorable year when she secured Kenya’s first women’s marathon gold in Rio. But she faces a ban from the sport if her “B” sample also returns a positive test. The 32-year-old’s victory in Rio de Janeiro last August was already cloaked in controversy due to Kenya’s often chaotic drug testing history and the athlete’s own associations. Her former training partner, Rita Jeptoo, who won the Boston Marathon three times and the Chicago Marathon twice but is currently serving a four-year ban of her own for EPO use.
So we’re forced to concentrate on the men this Sunday with betting firms making Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia their favourite. The current world and Olympic record holder is only a best 6/5 in the English capital, which will be in comparative lockdown over the weekend given the security issues exposed in Westminster just a few weeks ago. The Boston Marathon was, of course, targeted by bombers a few short years ago. That 6/5 could still prove some value with doubts still doing the rounds about whether current second favourite Stanley Biwott, a best 7/2 with Bwin, will turn up.
Bekele was only third last year behind Eliud Kipchoge and Biwott but wasn’t fully fit having missed the 2015 race when suffering a tendon injury. He also suffered from missing several drinks stations so his effort was all the more commendable.
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London Marathon 2017 Men’s Race Current Odds
Kenenisa Bekele (6/5), Stanley Biwott (7/2), Tesfaye Abera (6/1), Feyisa Lilesa (8/1), Bedan Karoki and Abel Kirui (12/1), Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (13/1), Daniel Wanjiru (15/1), Tilahun Regassa (23/1), Amanuel Mesel (25/1), Asefa Mengstu and Tadesse Abraham (28/1)