Elite Kenyan Athletes Criticize Federation

A group of elite Kenyan athletes led by former marathon world record-holder Wilson Kipsang, the president of the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya, have criticized the Athletics Federation of Kenya for suspending their agents in a doping investigation. The athletes remarked the suspensions have hurt their preparations for the world championships and other major competitions this season.

In a joint statement, the athletes questioned move of Athletics Kenya to suspend Italy’s Rosa & Associati and the Netherlands’ Volare Sports from working in Kenya for six months. The two European athlete management companies were suspended on Monday pending investigations into the recent spike in doping cases involving Kenyan athletes.

Reading from a prepared statement, Wilson Kipsang said accusing Rosa and Volare of doping has caused unrest locally and internationally. Kipsang added it is unprofessional since Athletics Kenya has not tabled facts and evidence to prove the agents are involved in doping.

In the last five years, more than 30 Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests with women’s marathon star Rita Jeptoo the highest profile case so far. Jeptoo, represented by Rosa, was banned for two years in January after she tested for the blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) in an out-of-competition test in Kenya last year.

Kenyan officials have been blaming the influence of foreign agents for some of the doping.

Meanwhile, Rosa & Associati and Volare Sports both said they were talking to world governing body IAAF. They added they had not received any information on their suspension or the reasons for it from Athletics Kenya. Gerard van de Veen, who heads Volare Sports, said Athletics Kenya is doing the opposite of what they should do — they ban and then investigate.

Rosa and Volare represent many elite athletes of Kenya including Kipsang, Kiprop, current marathon record-holder Dennis Kimetto, women’s 800 world champion Eunice Sum, two-time New York Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai, among others. Van de Veen represents Kipsang and Kimetto, among others.

The 2011 World 200m champion Amantle Montsho from Botswana who is in the Rosa camp was banned for two years after failing a dope test after winning the 2014 Commonwealth Games 200m title. Matthew Kisorio, who was banned for a period of two years before he completed his term, last year was also in the Rosa camp.

Van de Veen denied claims made by Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat that there were more doping cases among the runners of Volare. Van de Veen, referring specifically to marathoners Kipsang and Kimetto, said many times in the year they get doping control but they never found something and went on to add that he really does not understand the reason for the allegations.

Kiplagat, who later stepped aside as the boss of Athletics Kenya, said the athletic federation will appoint a manager who will be handling affected athletes in the IAAF and Diamond Leagues before investigations are completed. Kiplagat said we shall involve the IAAF, Kenya Police, AK and Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya in the investigations.

The Athletics Federation of Kenya has suggested providing the athletes with temporary managers during suspension of their agents but the suggestion has been rejected by the runners. Kipsang said Athletics Kenya “is not trustworthy” in handling finances, allowances and prize money and added they cannot manage the over 250 athletes in the two camps.

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