Two Kenyan athletes who are serving doping bans of four years at the 2015 World Championships have remarked Isaac Mwangi, the chief executive of Athletics Kenya, the country’s governing body for track and field, asked them for a bribe of $24,000 to reduce their suspensions.
Francisca Koki Manunga and Joy Sakari alleged Mwangi asked for the payment in a meeting held on October 16 and added they could not raise the money. In a November 27 email, they were informed of their bans but never filed a criminal complaint as they said they had no evidence to back up their accusations and also feared repercussions. Manunga and Sakari, both police officers in Kenya, said the chief executive of Athletics Kenya asked them for 2.5 million Kenyan shillings – or $24,000 – each.
Francisca Koki Manunga and Joy Sakari tested positive in August for Furosemide that is a banned diuretic used primarily to mask the use of forbidden performance enhancers. The athletes were sent home from the World Championships in Beijing. They revealed the drug was sold to them by a chemist in the Kenyan capital who testified in defense of the athletes to Athletics Kenya. The chemist said he provided them Furosemide to combat water-retention caused by the supplement. Sakari and Manunga were banned until 2019.
The allegations were dismissed by Mwangi as "just a joke". Mwangi said Athletics Kenya has no power to shave time off bans on athletes and denied ever meeting the athletes in private. The chief executive of Athletics Kenya said we have heard stories, athletes coming and saying we were asked for money but they cannot really substantiate that.
Sakari and Manunga said they would be ready to testify to the IAAF Ethics Commission. The commission is presently investigating allegations that Athletics Kenya officials sought to subvert anti-doping in Kenya and offered reduced bans to athletes and solicited bribes. The investigation led to the suspensions of Athletics Kenya president, Isaiah Kiplagat, a vice president, David Okeyo, and Kenya's governing body for track and field former treasurer, Joseph Kinyua.
Sharad Rao, a former director of prosecutions in Kenya is leading the ethics investigation for the International Association of Athletics Federations. Rao had been entrusted with the task of adjudicating cases for the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the past. Rao commented it is good for Sakari and Manunga to come forward because Kenyan athletes have been unwilling to act as whistleblowers. Rao added there is obviously the reluctance on the part of the athletes to come forward and also remarked they don’t want to stand out.
In the last few months, a half-dozen banned athletes indicated privately to the IAAF Commission that officials from Athletics Kenya sought to extort them and they believe if they might have received lighter sentences if they had paid bribes, Rao said. The former director of prosecutions in Kenya added allegations by Sakari and Manunga in public could prove to be a good start and remarked that information would, of course, be very, very significant, very important for us.
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