ELDORET, April 14- Top runners from Rosa Associati and Gerrard van der Veen’s Volare Sports stables reacted furiously to Athletics Kenya’s move to suspend their managers from undertaking any activities in the country for six months to pave way for investigations into doping allegations in their respective camps.
Addressing a joint press conference in Eldoret on Tuesday the athletes who read like royalty in the list of decorated distance running stars read malice and impunity in the national federation’s move.
Led by former world record holder, twice London and New York marathon champion Wilson Kipsang, who is represented by Dutch firm Volare Sports, the aggrieved runners suspect political machinations in the suspension that places a dark cloud over their careers at a time when Kenya is under the spotlight for a spike in doping cases.
“The suspension of Rosa and Volare Sports, accusing them for doping has caused unrest both locally and internationally. The act is unprofessional and it has to be proved the mentioned firms are truly involved. AK has not tabled any facts and evidence to prove they were involved, which is unprofessional,” Kipsang the Olympics bronze medallist who is also the chairman of Professional Athletics Association of Kenya (PAAK) read in a statement.
He added the suspensions has distracted training ahead of competitions starting with this weekend’s Boston Marathon and London that follows a week later where athletes from both camps feature prominently in the elite men and women fields.
“It has also put the image of Kenya in a bad situation ahead of major global events starting from IAAF World Relays, IAAF Diamond League series, IAAF World Championships and major marathons in the world,” the London course record holder stated.
World marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto, former world marathon majors winner Geoffrey Mutai, 2013 Paris Marathon champion Peter Kimeli Some and decorated female distance runners Winnie Chepkorir and Vivian Chepchumba from Volare were also present in the afternoon press call.
Rosa camp had double world champion Asbel Kiprop, Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion James Magut, 2009 Rotterdam marathon winner Duncan Kibet and Andrew Rotich among others.
Asbel said: “Doping is an individual case and we never wanted all of us to be sucked into it.”
Kipsang faulted AK’s decision they would take over the management of affected athletes pending conclusion of the investigations where the firms will either be reinstated or banned for life.
They invoked Rule 7 Article 1 of IAAF Competition rule 2014/2015, which states: “Athletes may use the services of an Athletes’ Representative to assist them in the negotiation of their athletics programme and in such other matters as they may agree. Alternatively, athletes may negotiate their own Athletics Programmes.”
The rule, Kipsang said, gives athletes the right to choose their managers and does not give AK (IAAF member) powers to manage and negotiate for the athletes.
“Deceiving the public that it can manage athletes in union with IAAF with the right sense that athletes are the employers and they are the employees is an unfortunate statement,” red Kipsang.
He added: “In our situation where the reputation of AK is not trustworthy of handling finances, failure to remit some team allowance and prizes predicts a disaster. They cannot manage well the over 250 athletes in the two camps.”
The athletes said there was no official communication as their agents received the ban only learning news from the media.
Whilst Rosa have been entangled in the doping web, the latest in January when client and star female marathoner, Rita Jeptoo, the thrice winner and twice champion of Boston and Chicago marathons was banned for two years for EPO use, AK boss Isaiah Kiplagat who is stepping down from May 1 for a three month sabbatical did not specify allegations against Volare runners.
Kenya captain for Punta Umbria World Cross, Matthew Kisorio, who served a two-year ban for steroid use in 2012 was in Rosa’s books before being fired after he tested positive with the Italian firm also distancing themselves from Jeptoo after her bust.
At the time, Rosa boss, Federico Rosa appeared before an AK hearing to present their case with her Italian coach, Claudio Berardelli stating she acted alone.