New Zealand middle-distance runner Nick Willis says an upgrade to a gold medal is a "moot point" following reports Beijing Olympics 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop has failed an out-of-competition doping test for a banned substance.

The 28-year old Kenyan was promoted to gold after original winner Rashid Ramzi was disqualified due to a failed drugs test in 2009.

In a statement Kiprop said he would not "ruin" his career by doping, the BBC reports.

"I have been at the forefront of the fight against doping in Kenya - a fight I strongly believe in and support," said Kiprop.


"I would not want to ruin all I have worked for since my first international race in 2007. I hope I can prove that I am a clean athlete in every way possible."

The chances Willis might join Jack Lovelock, Sir Peter Snell and Sir John Walker as New Zealand's fourth Olympic 1500m champion appear limited, at least officially.

Willis, who has already been upgraded from bronze to silver, told the Herald that if the allegations against Kiprop are proven true, any ban is only likely to be backdated a couple of years.

"If this alleged positive did transpire, then I don't think it has any official implications to 2008, so that's a moot point."

Willis said that having already endured the Ramzi saga, when the Bahraini was eventually stripped of gold in November 2009, he preferred to reflect on the joy taken from an elite running career spanning most of this century.

"That [Beijing race] is still the highlight of my sporting career. I couldn't have been any more joyful than I was that day. That was an amazing experience, and that's what brought us [he and his family] to peace many years ago in this sport.

"Potentially people left and right of you could be doping, but that's irrelevant because you're trying to get the most out of yourself. Otherwise it makes you angry or bitter and you can't perform to your best.

"I want to be able to run freely with joy in my future races and have fond memories rather than a sour taste in my mouth. There have been times in my career when I've had a cynical approach, but I've been free of that since about 2015."


Willis said he had known Kiprop since the 2007 world championships.

"We'll talk before every race, it's brief and cordial - 'how are you?', 'how is your training going?' – we'll shake hands, wish each other a good race and after the race congratulate [each other].

"He's very much a leader of the pack in Kenya. He's well respected and leads his own training group. In the Kenyan running world he carries the mana a Colin Meads would carry in New Zealand rugby. That's why this recent news has been so shocking for many people in the Kenyan sport, because they hold him in such high regard."

However, Willis said if the allegations are proven true, it was "very important" justice was served.

"This shows how widespread it is. The public and fans have every right to assume a high percentage of everyone is on it [banned substances].

"I don't judge anyone for casting doubt on anyone in races, including me, because that's how poor our sport has done the job at keeping clean. That's the most frustrating part.


"The most important thing is for them not to be afraid to bring down the biggest names, if and when they cheat. They've got to be prepared to take a blow to the image of the sport - not that it could be any lower - so it can be rebuilt."

Willis said he had contemplated how to combat cheats throughout his career.

"Halfway through my career I was wrestling with this. I was no longer naïve to the situation, and you have to decide if it's a sport you want to be part of or walk away from.

"We [Willis and his support team] decided we were going to find a way to get joy out of my performances, separate to what other people do.

"Me, my wife, my family and my coaches are all really proud of my career, regardless of what other people do."

After injury curtailed Willis' Commonwealth Games plans, he will open his season by running the mile at the Adidas Boost Boston Games on May 19.