Athletics: Kenyan officials suspended over graft, doping scrutiny

The Athletics Kenya headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Athletics Kenya headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS • Three Kenyan athletics officials were suspended on Monday over suspicions they siphoned off sponsorship money from Nike and subverted anti-doping controls.

In the latest hammer blow to global track and field, the IAAF ethics commission announced the provisional suspension - for a period of 180 days - of the Kenyan athletics federation president and two other top officials in the "interests of the integrity of the sport".

Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat was suspended along with vice-president David Okeyo, an IAAF Council member, and Joseph Kinyua, former federation treasurer and Kenya team leader at the world championships in Beijing.

They were suspended "pending investigation of complaints made against them and evidence and information which has been received by the IAAF Ethics Commission".

The cases warranting investigation were twofold, the commission explained.

The first was "in relation to potential subversion of the anti-doping control process in Kenya". They also face investigation because they are "accused of potential improper diversion from Athletics Kenya of funds received from Nike".

"A prima facie case has also been found to exist in respect of Mr Kiplagat in relation to receipt, personally or by Athletics Kenya, of an apparent gift of two motor vehicles from the Qatar Association of Athletics Federation in the period 2014-2015," it said.

The Qatari capital of Doha was named in November 2014 as the surprise host city of the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

The Sunday Times newspaper alleged earlier last month that Okeyo, along with two other then-unnamed officials, siphoned off US$700,000 (S$988,000) out of the federation's bank account from a sponsorship deal between the national association and sportswear giant Nike.

This latest investigation will heap further embarrassment on the IAAF.

It has already suspended Russia from all competition after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency alleged the country had been involved in systemic state-sponsored doping.

Many in Kenya fear doping is rife among their top-class athletes too - runners who have been the source of enormous national pride.

More than 30 Kenyan athletes have recently been suspended after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Notable among that number is marathon star Rita Jeptoo.

There were two positive tests at this year's Beijing world championships, where the Kenyan team topped the medals table for the first time, taking seven golds, six silvers and three bronzes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'Kenyan officials suspended over graft, doping scrutiny'. Print Edition | Subscribe