Two Kenyan sprinters fail doping test in Beijing

By evelyn watta
Aug 26, 2015
  • Joyce Zakari(right) wins her heat on Monday.(Photo by Getty Images/IAAF)

  • Francisca Koki lines up for the women's 400m hurdles heat. (Photo by Getty Images/IAAF)

BEIJING - Barely a day after she improved on her own Kenyan 400m record, has learnt that Joyce Zakary and African 400m hurdles silver medalist Francisca Koki may have failed doping tests that came to fore soon after their qualifying runs here in Beijing.

The two leading Kenyan sprinters both tested positive for a masking agent for an unknown substance, possibly Nandrolone and may have been informed of the tests just hours before Nicholas Bett won Kenya's first medal in the 400m at the ongoing world championships.

Athletics Kenya's Chief Executive Officer Isaac Mwangi, did not confirm or deny the tests.

"Any matter touching on doping is a matter of confidentiality until proven and the right procedure is followed. I will meet with the team management and the IAAF and see if I have any more information besides this,"he said adding that the Kenyan runners like most of other athletes in Beijing have undergone vigorous testing since they arrived last week.

"The doping here has been vigorous and all our athletes have been tested I think some even up to four times so far." 

Zakari, 29 topped her heat in 50.41 seconds and was primed to be one of the finalists in the women’s 400m pending her qualification from the semi finals which she unexpectedly skipped.

The runner has been in fantastic form this season. She thrilled with a 51.14 seconds run last July at the Safaricom Kasarani stadium in the women’s 400m erasing Rose Waithera’s 31-year old mark of 51.56 seconds in the 1984 Olympic final.

Koki on the hand was washed out in her qualifying heat finishing a distant seventh in 58.96 the second slowest time from the heats.

It was way off her personal best, the Kenyan record she set last year at the African championships in Morocco.

She lowered Rose Tata-Muya’s 55.94 mark set in 1991 at the All African games, two years before she was born.

Joseph Kinyua, the team manager said he was only informed during the technical meeting that: “She told the coach she had issues with IAAF."

Seven years ago, Kenya Prisons Elizabeth Muthoka, the then national champion was banned for two years after she tested positive for Nandrolone.

Muthoka had been tested at the 2008 national championships and was selected for the Beijing Olympics after she lowered the long standing national record to 50.8 seconds.

Her performances were cancelled soon after and she was banned for two years.

The two Kenya Police runners failed tests puts the spotlight back on team Kenya whose preparations have been clouded by controversy following media reports in Germany and England.

The reports allege that doping continues in Kenya and that there was widespread corruption within the Kenyan set-up to cover-up positive tests.