Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet has been handed a four-year doping ban ©Getty Images

Rio 2016 Olympic steeplechase gold medallist Ruth Jebet has been handed a four-year ban, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has announced.

The 23-year-old, who is Kenyan-born but competes for Bahrain, tested positive for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) in December 2017. 

She had provided the sample for an out-of-competition test. 

Having been given a provisional suspension from February 4 2018, Jebet told AIU in March 2018 that she had never taken the substance intentionally and the case was referred to a disciplinary tribunal.

AIU has since decided that Jebet committed the violation intentionally and also took one-and-a-half years to admit to the offence.

She will now serve a four-year ban from February 18 2018, with her results from December 1 2017 discounted. 

Jebet has the right to appeal the decision, but currently stands to miss out on defending her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020. 

Ruth Jebet won Olympic gold at Rio 2016 in the women's 3000m steeplechase ©Getty Images
Ruth Jebet won Olympic gold at Rio 2016 in the women's 3000m steeplechase ©Getty Images

She had won the women's 3000 metre steeplechase at Rio 2016 in 8min 59.75sec.

Just days later, Jebet broke the 3000m steeplechase world record in 8:52.78 at the Diamond League event in Paris, knocking more than six seconds off the previous record.

Her record has since been surpassed by Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech.

A number of other long distance runners, the majority Kenyan, are also serving doping bans for EPO.  

Those banned include Jemima Sumgong, winner of Kenya's first Olympic gold medal in the women's marathon when she crossed the line first at Rio 2016, who tested positive for EPO in 2017. 

In 2018, three-time world champion and Olympic 1,500m gold medallist Asbel Kiprop was also banned for use of the substance.