Olympic marathon bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang has pulled out of the Kenya team to the world championships, in Moscow.
David Okeyo, Athletics Kenya Vice President, said Kipsang will not be part of the Kenya delegation to Moscow for the championships, which will be held in Russia in August.
Kipsang joins Olympic silver medallist and defending champion Abel Kirui to walk out on the Kenya team, which faces a litmus test to firm its grip as the giants in long distance running.
"It is true the two runners are out. Kirui has failed to recover from his leg injury while Kipsang has contacted us saying that he is not keen to run in Moscow.
"Kipsang has other engagements and wants to attempt a world record either in Berlin or somewhere else. So he asked to be left out," said Okeyo, Monday in Nairobi.
Kipsang won the London marathon in 2012, but was fifth this year. He holds the second fastest time in the 42km distance of 2:03.42, which he set in 2011 in winning Hamburg marathon.
The news is a blow to Kenya hopes of retaining the world marathon title in Moscow. Kirui, who was third at the London marathon, was keen to make history as the first athlete to win the world title three times in a row after he was successful in Berlin (2009) and Daegu in South Korea (2011).
"I have opted out of the defending my title at the World Championships. I have failed to recover from the injury, which I got in training back in march," said Kirui, Monday in Eldoret.
Kirui is nursing a muscle strain after it failed to respond quickly to treatment. He has been to hospitals in Amsterdam, Nairobi and Eldoret to seek special medical advice.
Doctors advised him to stay away after he was diagnosed with stress fractures.
"Kirui has a grade two stress fracture in his right shin. After showing painful bruising around his right leg, Kirui was investigated by the Department of Elite Sports Medicine in the Dutch town of Ede and found to have a grade two stress reaction with edema in the right distal fibula bone with reactive edema in the surrounding soft tissue," his management team said.
Alongside Kirui and Kipsang, there will be no room for world marathon record holder Patrick Makau, who misses out on his second international event, after he was overlooked in the selection to the London Olympics last August.
But there is Tokyo marathon champion Dennis Kimetto (2:04:16), who will be eying to prove to his mentor, Berlin marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai, that he has what it takes to step into his shoes.
Another green horn making a curve in the Kenyan team is Peter Kimeli Some, a son of legendary Kenyan Some Muge (The late), who won the country the first ever cross country medal in Madrid in 1983.
Throw in Hamburg marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, London marathon silver medallist Emmanuel Mutai and there is still hope for Kenya to hold firm in Moscow in the men cadre.
The women team has Edna Kiplagat defending her title, after she came second at the London marathon behind compatriot Priscah Jeptoo, who is also in the team.
Also named is Boston marathon bronze medallist Sharon Cherop. There is surprise entry for Berlin marathon champion Florence Kiplagat, Lucy Kabuu, the Dubai marathon silver medallist and veteran Lydia Cheromei.
"We want to retain the gold medals at the World Championships. We also want to improve on the performance we had in Daegu, South Korea in 2011 and that is why we are starting the preparations early," said Isaiah Kiplagat, the Athletics Kenya President.
Athletics Kenya is expected to name the final team to Moscow this week after deliberating on the withdrawals and listening to the coaches committee.
Kiplagat also said 58 athletes have made the qualifying mark and will be put in training camp to monitor their preparations.
"Those who will qualify later and the defending champions are also allowed to join the camp," said Kiplagat.
Men: Eliud Kipchoge, Bernard Koech, Peter Some, Emmanuel Mutai, Dennis Kimetto, Mike Kipyego, Bernard Kipyego, Henry Sugut.
Women: Rita Jeptoo, Priscah Jeptoo, Edna Kiplagat, Philomena Cheyech, Florence Kiplagat, Jamaima Chelegat, Lucy Kabuu, Margaret Akai, Sharon Cherop, Lydia Cheromei. Endi