Athletics Kenya (AK) has today (Thursday) dismissed the latest corruption allegations levelled against it as “malicious”, as the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) called the reports “extremely troubling” and indicative of the need to establish an independent anti-doping body in the African country.
Two Kenyan athletes serving four-year bans for doping at the 2015 World Athletics Championships yesterday (Wednesday) alleged that AK chief executive Isaac Mwangi asked them each for a $24,000 (€21,486) bribe to reduce their suspensions.
Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga told the Associated Press news agency that Mwangi asked for the payment in an October 16 meeting, but stated they could not raise the money. Mwangi, who was not among the three senior AK officials suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in November, dismissed the allegation as “just a joke” and has now been supported by his employer.
In a statement reported by the Reuters news agency, AK said the allegations were “malicious and aimed at maligning the character of individuals as well as those of the national federation”. It added: “This matter will be pursued through the relevant legal channels to ensure that it is dealt with expeditiously.”
Kenya topped the medals table at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing and is expected to enjoy further success at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, around 40 Kenyan runners have failed drugs tests in the past few years, harming preparations for Rio 2016.
Responding to the latest allegations, Wada director general David Howman (pictured) said in a statement: “Wada is most disturbed by these reports regarding extortion and bribery at the national level of sport, eerily similar sounding to what we learnt through the recent Independent Commission investigation into widespread doping in international athletics.
“Wada will of course require more detailed information on these allegations from those concerned so that we can determine if this is a matter for us to investigate or for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Ethics Commission as part of its own inquiries.
“The allegations we have heard this week also illustrate the importance of having a robust, independent National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) fully functional in Kenya at the earliest opportunity. This is a vital step for a country of Kenya’s sporting stature to take if it is to effectively protect clean athletes.”