RIO DE JANEIRO, Kenya’s Athletics team manager at the Rio Olympic games, Major retired Michael Rotich has strongly denied reports that he was willing to accept money to warn cheating athletes of planned doping tests.
According to an expose by the British Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD which could shake the Athletics world barely a week to the start of track and field competition at the Olympic Stadium, Rotich was reportedly recorded on camera negotiating for payment with journalists posing as British coaches.
The video shows Rotich, who is also the North Rift Athletics Kenya Chairman apparently asking for £10 000 (Ksh.1.3 million) up from the £9 000 he was offered, to reveal the timings of the doping tests to the affected athletes.
Rotich who was leading the track and field team of about 40 runners, most of whom arrive in Rio on Sunday evening, said he had no qualms over his role as the head of the team at the Olympics and his conscience is clear over the allegations.
“Most of those things are mere allegations no truth at all. I met them around February. I met them as coaches of British athletes. I discussed with them mainly because I was personally keen to know how, if any, how the doping cartel works and it will be done.
“Since I come from the region I was trying to get the necessary information and I would have ensured that the fellows are exposed and arrested,” he told Sports News Arena from an unidentified location.
The head of delegation of team Kenya Stephen Soi confirmed that he has asked him to leave the games village following the allegations.
“For now we treat them as allegations and we shall leave it to the right teams to investigate. As the chief of delegation, I am withdrawing him from the team to go and sort out the issues,” said Soi.
The assistant track and field team manager Ainsworth Maragara will now take charge of the runners and one thrower.
Prior information on tests
The report further claimed that Rotich was willing to inform the coaches of the planned drug tests for the next three months on receipt of the money, as he had prior information on the tests.
He claimed he would always be informed at least a day before the doping tests within the athletics rich North Rift region were conducted.
“I agreed (to the deal) because If I had become rigid they would not have gone ahead with their exercise. They asked me how sure are we about it (getting information on the timing of the tests). It is not because I wanted the money, I wanted them to get interested so that I can know who and how they dope the athletes,”Rotich claimed.
He said he never heard from the coaches or the doctor Joseph Mwangi, who introduced him to the ‘Brits’.
Mwangi was arrested and charged in a Nairobi court last month. The medic who is currently being investigated by Police for various doping offenses is currently out on bond.
Mwangi was one of the medics captured in the footage aired by the German television that asserted Kenyan and British athletes were using banned blood booster, EPO.
“They never came back until now when I am here when I heard from them. I strongly believe Mwangi was paid to fix me!” said Rotich.
The Retired Armed Forces Major is the fourth Athletics Kenya official to be accused of doping cover-ups following the suspensions of President Isaiah Kiplagat, his vice David Okeyo, former Treasurer Joseph Kinyua and the Association’s Chief executive officer Isaac Mwangi all who remain suspended pending the conclusions of a probe into the allegations.
The revelations come just two days after the World Anti Doping Agency, WADA, declared Kenya compliant with its code following the enactment of the Anti-Doping bill.
The delay in passing the bill had threatened Kenya’s participation in the Rio games with fears that the country’s athletes could be banned from competing in the games like the Russian track and field team.
There has been focus on Kenyan athletes as about 40 athletes have failed doping tests since 2012 including former Boston and Chicago winner Rita Jeptoo and the two-time winner of the World Cross Country Championships, Emily Chebet.