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Regan: Issue when to test top runners

Future Freihofer’s Run for Women races will include drug testing of elite athletes, event director George Regan promised Sunday.

Only, Regan isn’t saying which races.

One day after a world-class runner ripped Regan for failing to drug test at Saturday’s 3.1-mile race through downtown Albany, Regan defended his decision to bypass testing this year. In fact, he said he may bypass it again.

He said he’s not sure. He doesn’t want runners to be sure.

That’s the point, he said.

“We don’t want athletes to know when they’re going to be tested,” Regan said. “It says right on the entry form that all athletes will be subject to it. That’s how it’s going to remain. (Testing) is going to happen again. When? I don’t even know that.”

At least one elite runner objects to Regan’s plan.

Third-place finisher Lornah Kiplagat said she only agreed to run the Freihofer’s on the condition that there would be drug testing. Kiplagat and her husband and agent, Pieter Langerhorst, said by not testing Regan reneged on a promise.

Langerhorst said he also objected to comments Regan made in Sunday’s Times Union, when he said “Why should it be my opportunity to clean up the sport? I didn’t make it that way. … We have 20 elite athletes, and 20,000 recreational runners — it’s not their problem and it’s not their concern. They’re out there to enjoy the day. … Part of that is the thrill of international competition, but I don’t think it’s my responsibility to be the policeman of the athletic community.”

Langerhorst said Kiplagat is almost certain to skip future Freihofer’s races.

“I don’t think there’s any chance,” he said. “Screwing up like this, making those comments? It’s a waste. It’s too bad for all those people who make it a great race, all those volunteers. They did a nice job.”

Langerhorst said despite his anger about the testing, he and Kiplagat enjoyed Albany. He said he appreciated the generosity of the local schools, some of which pledged donations to the camp for young runners he and Kiplagat operate in Kenya. He said one parent handed him an envelope with $100.

“The people of Albany have really supported us,” Langerhorst said. “It’s just this one thing that spoiled it.”

Regan said he was unsure if he would attempt to talk Kiplagat into coming back next year.

This marked the second time in two years that Freihofer’s became shrouded in a doping controversy. In 2005, several elite runners — including Kiplagat — boycotted in protest of the race’s promotion of Asmae Leghzaoui, a Moroccan runner who served a two-year suspension for performance-enhancing drug use.

Regan said he understood concerns about doping are part of elite-running culture.

“It’d be good if drugs weren’t a part of the sport,” he said. “They are. That’s the reality. My position and the position of this race is that we don’t accept drugs in sports. We don’t want them. And we’ll do whatever we can to stop them.”

The testing flap may not affect future fields much, beyond Kiplagat. Australian Benita Johnson, who won Saturday’s race, and Leghzaoui, who finished 11th, said they plan to return next year.

Regan said he hopes to improve the field by extending invitations to Deena Kastor, the top American distance runner, and Paula Radcliffe, the renowned marathon runner from Great Britain.