NAIROBI, April 2- The noose is tightening on masterminds of the recent spike in doping cases in the country with arrests of local perpetrators and bans on foreign agents to be announced next week, Athletics Kenya (AK) boss Isaiah Kiplagat revealed Thursday.
With the country reeling from 34 positive cases since 2013 with the latest last week when 40 year-old USA based Joseph Mutinda was banned for three years, Kiplagat revealed the federation had crucial leads they shared with the country’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who deal with organised crimes.
“We are working well with the athletes. Next week, we might be announcing some drastic measures. We might have to ban or suspend two or three agents. You will hear it at my press conference next week.
“At least Kenya can be seen to be working. We are working with the CID and we have some leads that one or two people might be arrested in the next one or two weeks. I must make it clear; it is not easy to control (doping) when people want to be famous and rich, they can do anything,” Kiplagat said in Nairobi.
The federation has been accused of complicity in dealing with the vice that turned on its head when three-time Boston and two-time Chigaco Marathon champion, Rita Jeptoo was banned for two years for EPO use in January.
Kiplagat was speaking when integrated communication firm Safaricom unveiled the third edition of the Safaricom Athletics Series that will, for the first time, feature track and field events in addition to relay and long distance races in a partnership worth Sh120m (USD1.2m).
The circuit will be categorized into three arms namely: Safaricom Relay Edition, Safaricom Track and Field Edition and Safaricom Long Distance Edition.
“We hope to give our athletes a chance to explore their talents by providing more platforms for them to take advantage of. We will not relent on our commitment to support athletics. Our overall objective is to have a positive impact in sports as we continue with our agenda of transforming lives of communities,” Bob Collymore Safaricom’s chief executive, said at the event.
The first event in the series will take place next weekend and the organisers have invited five African nations to compete during the trial in a bid to prepare the team for the IAAF World Relays in Bahamas.
Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda have confirmed attendance.
Four members of the public and an equal number of Safaricom staff will also get a chance to participate in November’s New York City Marathon provided they run in four of the 13 races in the schedule and post best times.
With the firm raising the red flag on integrity of federations in handling sponsorship monies, Safaricom is considering hiring external auditors to safeguard finances.
“Even as we continue to invest heavily in athletics, we would like to call upon all stakeholders and the governing body, Athletics Kenya, to ensure that the good image of athletics as a key sport in Kenya is not eroded by the issues that have plagued this sport over the past few months,” added Collymore.