NAIROBI, Kenya, July 5 – Kenya police on Tuesday questioned two Italian sports agents over doping allegations that continue to plague the east African nation just a month before the start of the Rio Olympics.
Gabriele Rosa and his son Federico, both from the Rosa and Associati agency, manage several top Kenyan athletes including three-time Boston marathon champion Rita Jeptoo, who was banned for two years in 2015 after testing positive for the blood drug EPO, and three-time world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop.
The father and son pair were reportedly arrested in Eldoret on Friday during the Kenyan team selection trials for next month’s Olympics and had their passports confiscated. Their interrogation began on Monday.
“We have had them with us for investigations which are ongoing”, said Hamisi Masa, head of the anti-narcotics unit at the Criminal Investigation Department.
The two Italians have managed Kenyan athletes since the late 1980s and been under suspicion since 2012 when the first of their stable of athletes was banned for doping.
Their arrest comes two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a new law criminalising doping in the country in order to avoid an Olympics ban threatened against its runners.
The law stipulates a fine of Sh 3m ($30,000) or a three-year prison term for anyone found guilty of dispensing illegal or banned drugs to the athletes.
Rosa and Associati, which was running two training camps in the Rift Valley towns of Eldoret and Kapsabet, was one of two foreign agencies suspended for six months last year by Athletics Kenya, pending investigations into allegations of doping which led to over 40 Kenyan athletes being suspended.
Rosa and Associati also manages several other African athletes, including Botswana’s former world 400m champion Amantle Monsho, who was also suspended after testing positive for drugs in 2014.