12 Aug 2016

Kiwi runner speaks out on alleged Kenyan doping

9:38 am on 12 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics - The Kenyan athletics coach has been sent home from the Olympics for posing as an athlete and giving a urine sample.

Kenya's Olympics chief, Kip Keino, has confirmed John Anzrah's dismissal.

Zane Robertson

Zane Robertson Photo: AFP / FILE

New Zealand middle-distance runner Zane Robertson has been speaking out about what he says is state-sponsored doping by the Kenyan athletics squad.

Robertson, who is based in Ethiopia but also trains in Kenya, told Morning Report he had known for years and had had enough.

"I've seen international governing bodies cover up cheats," Roberston said.

"The rule that federations have to announce their cheating athletes is just disgusting because in corrupt countries, and non-compliant countries, they don't care. It's all about making money and getting that new Benz."

He had had death threats on social media and would not be returning to Kenya, Roberston said.

Kenya has some of the world's best middle and long-distance runners, but more than 40 of its competitors have failed drug tests since 2012 and its athletics federation has been mired in corruption scandals linked to doping.

The concerns over Kenya's doping problem were so large that at one point the country's participation at the Rio Olympics was under threat.

Mr Keino, a Kenyan running great and chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), said sprint coach Mr Anzrah was sent home after a drug test at an Olympic venue.

"He presented himself as an athlete, gave the urine sample and even signed the documents. We cannot tolerate such behaviour," Keino said.

"We don't even know how he came here because we [NOCK] did not facilitate his travel here," added Keino.

It was not clear which athlete Mr Anzrah was pretending to be.

But one senior source at Kenya's running federation, Athletics Kenya (AK), said he had spoken to the concerned athlete, who claims Anzrah used his accreditation purely to obtain free meals from the athletes' village.

"When the anti-doping officials met him, they assumed he was the athlete and that he was lined up for testing," the AK source said.

"The coach, for fear of being exposed or discovered, did not explain to the anti-doping guy that he is actually not the athlete. Hence he played along and went for the test," the source added.

Anzrah was not immediately available for comment.

Last week, Kenya sent their track and field manager Michael Rotich home from the Games following allegations that he requested money to let undercover journalists, posing as athlete representatives, know when drugs testers would come calling.

Rotich has denied the accusations, but was arrested on his return to Nairobi, where a judge ordered the police to hold him for four weeks during the doping probe.

The latest doping allegations, coming on the eve of the first track and field competition at the Rio Games, arrive at an awkward time for organisers and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which this month removed Kenya from its list of nations deemed 'non-compliant' with its doping code.

WADA changed its stance on Kenya after the country's parliament introduced new legislation to punish drug cheats.

Mr Keino, who has won two gold medals for Kenya, had been the first senior Kenyan official to sound alarm bells about the scale of doping in Kenya.

In the past he has often complained about his concerns being ignored by government officials.

At the opening ceremony of Rio Games, Mr Keino was honoured by organisers, receiving the first-ever Olympics Laurel for his work in promoting sport and education for the poor in Kenya.

- RNZ/Reuters

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