Eliud Kipchoge Speaks Out on Rumors Surrounding Kiptum’s Death: ‘I Trust No One’

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Two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge says he does not trust anyone, even his own shadow, after a barrage of online rumours that linked him to the death of fellow marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum.

Kiptum, the world record holder who looked set to challenge Kipchoge’s dominance in long-distance running, died aged 24 in a car crash in February.

Some social media users began to speculate that Kipchoge was part of a conspiracy to kill Kiptum, who had lowered the world best to two hours, 35 seconds last October in Chicago.

Kipchoge opened up about how the social media attacks affected him and at some point, he feared for his life and that of his family.

The 39-year-old, in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport Africa, said it was one of the most trying moments of his life.

“I was shocked that people [on] social media platforms are saying ‘Eliud is involved in the death of this boy’.

“I received a lot of bad things; that they will burn the (training) camp, they will burn my investments in town, they will burn my house, they will burn my family. It did not happen but that is how the world is,” Kipchoge said.

The five-time Berlin Marathon champion acknowledged that his immediate concern was the well-being of his family. He expressed fear for his children’s safety while going to and returning from school.

“Sometimes they bike around, but we had to stop them because you never know what will happen. We started to drop them [off] and pick them [up] in the evening,” Kipchoge narrated.

“My girl was in boarding school – that was positive that she had no access as far as social media is concerned – but it’s tough for my boys to hear ‘Your dad has killed somebody’.”

‘Worst Moment’

During the candid interview at his home in Eldoret, Kipchoge became emotional while discussing the impact of the rumours and social media abuse on his mother.

“My worst moment was (when) I tried to call my mum. She told me ‘Just take care’ and ‘A lot has been going on’. Where I come from is a local area. And with the age of my mum, I really realised that social media can go everywhere.

“But she gave me courage. It was really a tough month.”

He also mentioned that the social media harassment had impacted his performance in the Tokyo Marathon on 3 March, where he finished 10th, marking his lowest placement since his debut in 2013.

“When I was in Tokyo I had three days which I did not sleep. It was my worst ever position.”

Kipchoge told BBC that he “lost about 90%” of his friends due to the wrongful association with Kiptum’s accident and subsequent online abuse.

“It was really painful for me to learn even from my own people, my training mates, those who I have contact with, and the bad words are coming from them. I was really down to see that,” he said.

“I learned that friendship cannot be forever. I think it’s unfortunate that it happened when I’m celebrating over 20 years in sport.

“What happened has [made] me not trust anybody. Even my own shadow, I will not trust.”

Additional Reporting by the BBC Sport Africa.

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