Kenya

AP

Kenya’s Olympic track coach banned 10 years

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The Kenyan track team coach who was sent home from the Rio Olympics was banned for 10 years Wednesday for seeking a bribe of $12,000 to help athletes beat doping tests.

Michael Rotich was banned by the IAAF ethics board following a three-year investigation prompted by an undercover sting by British newspaper The Sunday Times. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $14,000 in procedural costs.

In video footage released by the newspaper during the Rio Games, Rotich asked undercover reporters for the money to help a group of British runners dope with EPO and get away with it in the region in Kenya where he was the senior track official. To do that, he would give them advance notice of any drug tests.

“When I have interest, I will be able to find ways and means of doing that,” Rotich told the reporters.

The undercover reporters were posing as the coach and manager of a fictional group of athletes and no doping took place.

But the video was released following a series of Kenyan doping and corruption scandals involving high-profile athletes and senior officials.

Rotich was filmed alongside another Kenyan, a man identified as Joseph Mwangi, who said he could provide the banned blood-boosting substance EPO to the athletes once they were in Kenya.

Three videos were recorded of Rotich meeting the undercover reporters in January and February 2016.

In them, Rotich said he could use his influence in the famous high-altitude training region in Kenya’s Rift Valley to find out if and when doping control officers were planning to test the visiting British athletes.

Rotich told the undercover reporters that he knew the local drug testers and would say to them: “I am in charge of the region. Would you mind from time to time let me know if you are coming to test our own athletes or international athletes?”

Rotich said he was confident the testers would comply and he could give the British athletes 12 hours’ notice of any tests, allowing them to try to flush any banned substances out of their systems. Out-of-competition doping tests are meant to surprise athletes so they can’t take any action to avoid detection.

In his IAAF case, Rotich claimed he was only gathering information on corruption to take to authorities. That defense was rejected by the three-member ethics panel.

Although Rotich’s actions didn’t lead to any doping or cover-ups, the presence of advance notice of tests in Kenya came under more scrutiny in the case of 2008 Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop.

Kiprop admitted that he had been given advance notice of a doping test in Kenya in late 2017. Kiprop also admitted paying the doping control officer a small amount of money, which he suggested was common in Kenya. Kiprop tested positive for EPO and was banned four years.

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Margaret Wambui, Olympic bronze medalist, decries testosterone rule

Margaret Wambui
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Kenyan Margaret Wambui fears her track career may be over now that a rule is in place capping testosterone levels in women’s events between the 400m and mile, according to Agence France-Presse.

Wambui, the Olympic 800m bronze medalist, joined the others on the Rio podium in that event, South African Caster Semenya and Burundi’s Francine NIyonsaba, who previously said the new rule impacts them.

“I am very disappointed,” Wambui said, according to the report. “I don’t feel even like going on with the training because you don’t know what you are training for.”

Wambui, 23, said she will not take medication, according to AFP, which signals that she would not try to meet the testosterone limit to return to 800m competition for the world championships this fall.

“Something in me, in my blood, it is something I cannot do without,” she reportedly said. “Now they are telling us we can’t compete, we just feel rejected.

“We are just natural. We did not dope.”

Semenya lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to block the rule from going into effect. South Africa’s track and field federation indicated it will lodge a further appeal.

“Why, when you have a high level of testosterone in men, you are likely to perform well and we celebrate that?” Wambui said, according to AFP. “But when it comes to women we have to tell them to lower it, and we draw them out of competition. Why?”

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Eliud Kipchoge announces special sub-2-hour marathon bid (again)

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OXFORD, England (AP) — Eliud Kipchoge has funding from Britain’s richest man for his bid to break the two-hour marathon barrier again later this year.

The fastest marathon runner of all time announced plans for the record attempt during a visit to the track in Oxford where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile 65 years ago on Monday.

“I want to unlock that thought that there are limitations in the human being,” Kipchoge told The Associated Press at the Iffley Road track. “There are no barriers when you believe in yourself and try and trust in what you are doing.”

The 34-year-old Olympic champion has gained the trust of Jim Ratcliffe, who founded chemicals group INEOS and is estimated by London-based Sunday Times Rich List to be worth 21 billion pounds ($28 billion).

Ratcliffe spent the London Marathon earlier this month in the pace car watching Kipchoge win the event for a record fourth time.

London is where Ratcliffe hopes the Kenyan runner will in September or October be lowering his world record marathon time of 2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds — set in Berlin in September — to under two hours.

Kipchoge made an attempt at the Monza motor racing circuit in Italy in May 2017, falling 26 seconds short across 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) around an oval track in a time not sanctioned by the IAAF, because of variables such as pacers entering mid-race and drinks being given to runners via mopeds.

This time a parklands circuit could be favored over a road circuit because Ratcliffe anticipates needing dates in London on three consecutive weekends being set aside to ensure the conditions are optimal for Kipchoge.

“If we have it in London it would need to be an iconic location that fulfils the performance criteria that’s flat and has a good surface,” Ratcliffe said after posing with Kipchoge in front of a clock that read “1:59.00.”

According to Ratciffle’s vision, the ideal situation for the attempt would involve a circuit of 2 to 3 kilometers, and a crowd.

“It’s one of those great challenges in the sporting world to try and break two hours,” for the marathon, Ratcliffe told the AP. “If he does succeed it’ll be very inspirational for people. He’s the finest marathon runner the world has ever produced and I think he’s still getting better.”

This is the latest foray into sports for Ratcliffe, who has taken over the Team Sky cycling outfit and renamed it after INEOS.

“We worked for 25-30 years in business and it’s quite successful,” Ratcliffe said. “We can afford to do this and why shouldn’t we really? We’re putting a modest amount in our terms into sport. I think they are good endeavors. We enjoy it and we can.”

There is also a risk. Ratcliffe said he has conducted due diligence into the athletes he is now funding in cycling and athletics — two sports that have grappled with doping issues.

“We probe quite deeply into that,” Ratcliffe said. “I have no interest in cheating.”

Neither does Kipchoge.

“This is the time to prove to the whole world that you can run in a positive way,” Kipchoge said, “and in a clean way and actually make history.”

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