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Report: Kenyan runners paid bribes in doping scandal

A Kenyan coach claims three Kenyan marathoners paid bribes to officials in exchange for lenient doping bans.

Kenyan coach Paul Simbolei has claimed that three Kenyan marathon runners paid bribes to Athletics Kenya, the country’s track and field governing body, in exchange for lenient doping bans, the Associated Press reports.

The IAAF is also investigating Kenyan officials for embezzling sponsorship money.

Kenya looks to avoid the fate of Russia, which was suspended from international competition after the World Anti-Doping Agency released the findings of a review into performance enhancing doping in Russian sports. WADA recommended that the IOC ban Russia from international competition while also banning five coaches and five athletes. Russian track and field athletes may miss the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Simbolei came forward and told police about the three marathoners, and was met with threats for being a whistle-blower. A criminal probe is underway.

He claims that Kenyan officials would threaten to expose athletes as cheaters if they did not surrender a portion of their race winnings. No names of athletes or officials were publicly shared.

Report: Police find $93,000 cash in ex-IAAF anti-doping head’s home

In a documentary aired on German television in August, Kenya’s widespread doping problem was shared with videos of doctors freely providing EPO to athletes as well as details of suspicious blood-value findings for global championship medalists. Journalist Hajo Seppelt said an investigation was underway into large monetary deposits from Nike to Athletics Kenya officials.

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The IAAF Ethics Commission is now investigating Athletics Kenya official David Okeyo for pocketing about $700,000 from the federation’s accounts, following a report by The Sunday Times. Much of the money came after deposits were made by Nike to ensure the national team remained sponsored by the swoosh.

Papa Massata Diack, son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack who is under criminal investigation, pushed for Athletics Kenya to terminate its deal with Nike and sign with Chinese apparel company Li-Ning in 2010. A $200,000 deposit from Papa Massata Diack was withdrawn by Okeyo. Kenya remains under contract with Nike.

Former Athletics Kenya staffer Matthews Kiprono Kiptum says that Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat and former Athletics Kenya treasurer Joseph Kinyua were also among the high-ranking officials that withdrew money.

“Kiplagat ordered $200,000 of the sum to be sent to a Hong Kong account and that his secretary withdrew an additional $100,000 in cash,” Kiptum says in an affidavit seen by The Sunday Times. “The remaining $200,000 was withdrawn in cash by Okeyo. Kiptum again alleges that there was no justification for such a huge withdrawal.”

IAAF president Seb Coe is paid by Nike as an ambassador despite concern over a potential conflict of interest. On Sunday, the IAAF issued the following statement:

“The IAAF was not aware of the investigation into Mr. Okeyo in Kenya and the information has immediately been passed on to the independent IAAF Ethics Commission.”

- Christopher Chavez