Kenyan police have arrested the country’s athletics manager who was sent home from the Rio Games and is being investigated after allegations he was asking for cash in return for warning athletes before drug tests, officials said on Tuesday.
Michael Rotich denies the accusation published in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper, which said he had been filmed by undercover journalists, posing as athlete representatives, some months ago.
The Kenyan team sent him home, and he was arrested on Tuesday at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as he arrived back from Brazil and was taken to court.
He has not been charged, but Kenyan police are requesting that he be held for seven days while they investigate further. He is due to appear in court again on Wednesday after being detained overnight.
“The respondent is suspected to have committed the several offences contrary to the Anti-Doping Act,” Kirimi Muguna, a police officer attached to Anti-Narcotics Unit, said in an affidavit presented to the court.
Kenya, a country with a history of middle and long-distance running excellence, has been tainted by up to 40 Kenyan runners failing dope tests in the past four years. Its struggle to convince authorities it is taking the issue seriously threatened its participation at the Rio Games.
Kenya’s president in April signed into law the bill criminalising doping that was demanded by the World Anti-Doping Agency to avoid the Rio ban.
It was only last week that Kenya was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of nations deemed “non-compliant” in their efforts to tackle doping after the introduction of the new legislation.
Rotich is being investigated by sport anti-doping authorities alongside the criminal inquiry.
“ADAK will immediately begin investigations into the allegations for a possible anti-doping rule violation. If found within violation of the rules, he will be subject to sanctions and any other disciplinary measures in line with the anti-doping rules,” a statement from the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya said.
“We would like to assure our athletes and Kenyans that these allegations are indeed grave and we will spare no effort in ensuring that any individuals associated with doping face justice.”
Athletics Kenya declined to give details on the matter.
“We appointed the technical officials including Major Rotich who has reportedly been sent home over doping allegations. However, we cannot comment on this issue until we independently ascertain what has been going on including giving Major Rotich a fair hearing,” it said in a statement.
“But as far as we are concerned Major Rotich was not acting on behalf of Athletics Kenya neither were Kenyan athletes including those Rio and at home involved in this matter.”