Two news organizations that helped blow the lid off the Russian doping scandal that rocked the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics are at it again, this time setting sights on Kenya’s accomplished track team.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper and Germany’s ARD public broadcasting service, which uncovered more than 1,400 abnormal results worldwide from a leaked database of 12,359 blood tests in a historic 2015 report, released undercover video of Kenya’s track manager Michael Rotich offering to provide coaches with advanced warning of doping tests in exchange for the equivalent of $13,000.
According to The Sunday Times, Rotich was expected to lead Kenya’s track team at Friday’s Opening Ceremony, but he did not show up once confronted about the allegations. On Sunday, Kenya vowed to send Rotich home on the first flight out of Rio and show “no mercy” should the allegations be true, pending a police investigation into the undercover video footage, according to the Associated Press.
When shown the undercover footage prior to its release, Rotich said he merely pretended to protect the coaches to show proof of their dishonest behavior, according to The Sunday Times and ARD.
“We have counseled, taught and even asked them to be cautious about doping,” Rotich told the media of his track athletes prior to leaving for Rio. “We want to show the world our bid for clean sport.”
— Hajo Seppelt (@hajoseppelt) August 7, 2016
Calling allegations “ill-timed” and “dubious,” Kenya’s secretary of sports, Hassan Wario, said of Rotich to the AP, “He must go home now. We will have no mercy on anyone who is suspected of doping.” Likewise, the International Olympic Committee opposed Rotich’s “distracting” presence in Rio.
Eleven percent of blood samples from Kenyan athletes tested by The Sunday Times and ARD in 2015 returned abnormal samples, including 18 of their championship medals. This past February, the World Anti-Doping Agency launched an investigation into the allegations of doping in Kenya and ultimately suspended the country’s drug-testing agency. Still, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) cleared Kenya in May for participation in the 2016 Summer Olympics, and a month later the International Olympic Committee vowed increased scrutiny of Kenyan athletes in Brazil.
Kenya’s track and field team features 47 Olympians in Rio, including defending gold medalists David Rudisha and Ezekiel Kemboi, who respectively won the 800 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2012 London Olympics. All in all, Kenya captured 11 medals in 2012, all in track and field.
In September 2014, Kenyan distance superstar Rita Jeptoo, a three-time Boston Marathon winner, received a two-year ban from Athletics Kenya for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Earlier this year, Kenyan sprinters Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga — both of whom tested positive for doping at the 2015 IAAF World Championships last summer — accused Athletics Kenya CEO Isaac Mwangi of seeking a $24,000 bribe to reduce their four-year bans from the sport. So, the undercover video of Rotich is merely the latest in a series of doping allegations against Kenya.
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