Suspicions over the level of doping in Kenya have again been raised less than a month before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro following the latest joint investigation by German television channel ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times.
The new report has also implicated three unnamed British runners, leading to UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to send two investigators to Kenya to investigate the claims.
The documentary broadcast tonight on ARD and presented by renowned investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt claimed that doping is rife at Kenya’s elite training centre in Iten.
The allegations are set to lead to fresh calls that Kenya should be banned from Rio 2016 along with Russia, suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following allegations of state-supported doping uncovered by ARD and The Sunday Times.
The documentary, largely filmed with a hidden camera, claimed to have successfully infiltrated one of their team posing as an athlete into the training centre which is a favoured spot for distance runners, both Kenyan and European, as it is at high altitude 2,400 metres above sea level.
The documentary shows images of boxes of the endurance boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO) on the inside of the training centre and used syringes dumped in a bin.
EPO is shown to be widely available in the chemists around the centre whilst two doctors are filmed offering to supply the journalist posing as an athlete with doping products.
One of the two doctors claims to have supplied “more than 50″ athletes, including three British runners, based on his guarantee he could dramatically improve their performances in “three months”.
“Even if the athletes are subjected to doping tests they will find nothing,” the doctor told the undercover reporter.
“That is what the top level athletes take.”
The same doctor, according to ARD, when approached again retracted his claims and said he had nothing to do with doping and to have made up supplying the products.
Both he and the other doctor featured have since been arrested by Kenyan police, according to ARD.
The Star newspaper in Kenya has reported that Ken Kipchumba Limo, a clinical officer at St Luke’s Orthopaedic and Trauma Hospital in Eldoret, and Joseph Mwangi who runs an herbal clinic, were arrested on Thursday (July 7) by an anti-narcotics police unit.
They have been detained at local police stations and are due to appear in court again on July 18.
Prominent Italian agent Federico Rosa was also arrested last week after being accused of conspiracy to cause injuries to professional athletes through doping.
Hotel rooms belonging to Rosa and his father Gabriele, whose company represented banned Kenyan athletes such as Rita Jeptoo, had been searched by police during the country’s Olympic trials in Eldoret.
According to The Star, the prosecution will decide next Thursday (July 14) whether Rosa will be charged or released, with the agent currently on a 300,000 Kenyan Shilling bond (£2,290/$2,965/€2,687).
They have denied any involvement with any doping case relating to Kenyan athletes.
A man claiming to be the coach of an Olympic champion, appearing with his face hidden, confirmed the claims about widespread doping at Iten made in the ARD documentary.
“The great majority of the athletes who appear out of nowhere are doped,” he said.
The IAAF had announced last month that Kenyan athletes hoping to compete at Rio 2016 faced extra testing to prove they were clean.
Nearly 50 Kenyan athletes have been banned for doping in the last three years.
Japhter Rugut, head of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, admitted the latest revelations were “very shocking”.
“We can see that we have a lot of problems at grassroots level and we will work with the police so as to weed out all those implicated in these criminal activities, both sports people and doctors, who will have to answer for their actions,” he told ARD.
“We want to go to Rio with a clean team.”
UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead claimed the new allegations are of “grave concern and of significant interest”.
She added: “We have opened an investigation and are taking the necessary steps to corroborate the evidence and investigate it further.
“Like all investigations we cannot disclose the exact details of what we are doing, as disclosing our tactics may undermine that investigation.
“However, I can confirm that this evidence is being treated with the utmost importance and urgency, and two members of UKAD staff are currently in Kenya pursuing a number of lines of enquiry.”
UK Athletics said that none of the doctors featured in the allegations were known to it or had treated its athletes.
By Duncan Mackay
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz