Nairobi - Kenyan athletics faced more
allegations on Sunday as a coach claimed three marathon runners paid bribes to
the national track federation in exchange for lenient doping bans.
Paul Simbolei said he had informed police
about the bribes and that he has been receiving threats since going to
authorities with the allegations.
In a separate case, the IAAF said it was
investigating allegations that a Kenyan athletics official who sits on the
governing body's decision-making council embezzled sponsorship money.
Both cases add to the scrutiny on athletics
in Kenya, a country that was already facing doping allegations similar to those
directed at Russia, which was banned from international track and field
competitions over what a report claimed was systematic state-sponsored doping.
Simbolei, a coach in the famous
high-altitude training town of Iten, declined to name the runners involved but
will meet police for a formal interview. Since he first made the allegations,
he had avoided answering some phone calls out of fear, he said.
His comments followed a report published by
British newspaper The Sunday Times, in which Simbolei said he had been told by
police that his life could be in danger after he made allegations of a larger
doping cover-up in Kenya in a previous interview with German broadcaster ARD.
"I told (police) everything I
knew," the newspaper quoted Simbolei as saying. "I told them
officials approach athletes, or their coaches, and demand cash by saying, 'you
know your athlete uses drugs'."
Simbolei claimed Kenyan track officials ask
for a share in race winnings, "or else they will expose you for cheating.
One police officer warned him "to be
careful with this information," said Simbolei. "Another officer told
me that the matter was extremely serious and could cost people their jobs. He
also said it could cost me my life to make such claims. I insisted that it was
all the truth."
The report did not name any athletes or
The IAAF case centred around council member
David Okeyo, one of three track officials under investigation in Kenya for
embezzling around $700 000, some of it sponsorship money from Nike, from the
Kenyan athletics federation's accounts. Most of the money was withdrawn in
cash, according to the allegations.
"The IAAF was not aware of the
investigation into Okeyo in Kenya and the information has immediately been
passed on to the independent IAAF Ethics Commission," a spokesperson for
the IAAF said in an email.
Okeyo, who is also a vice president of
Athletics Kenya, was accused alongside AK president Isaiah Kiplagat and Joseph
Kinyua, the former federation treasurer.
Kiplagat is a former IAAF council member
and was a candidate for an IAAF vice president position in elections earlier
Kenyan prosecutors are considering whether
to lay criminal charges against the three, director of public prosecutions
Keriako Tobiko said.
The investigations relating to Okeyo and
Kiplagat - some of which date back years - bring more allegations of wrongdoing
into the heart of the world body following revelations that ex-IAAF president
Lamine Diack is under criminal investigation in France for taking bribes to
cover up Russian doping.
Okeyo said that he had cooperated with
Kenyan police and initially declined to comment further. In a later statement,
he said: "I welcome investigations by the International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) Ethics Committee on allegations that in the course
of discharging my duties as the then Secretary General of Athletics Kenya (AK),
I was involved in embezzling of monies in the federation."
A series of damning revelations had already
left the IAAF reeling under new president Sebastian Coe, beginning with news
that Diack, Coe's predecessor as head of the sport, was under criminal
Following a World Anti-Doping Agency report of a vast,
state-sponsored cover-up, Russia was suspended on Friday in a vote of the
IAAF's decision-making council.