The Mail on Sunday has reported that three British athletes have been named by a group of Kenyans who have been charged with supplying performance-enhancing drugs and now fear that they may be dragged into the legal battle.
The Kenyans include a doctor, Samson Talei, and two other men, Ken Kipchumba and Joseph Mwangi who were arrested last year after being covertly recorded saying they supplied athletes, including the Britons, with banned drugs such as Erythropoietin (EPO).
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys. However, this hormone can be artificially produced to improve the performance of athletes by injection and cannot be traced by conventional drug testing.
Its overall effect is to increase endurance and is predominantly used by long distance-runners. It stimulates red blood cell production and is injected under the skin. The more red cells there are in your body, the more oxygen that can be delivered to the muscles. The effect is a delay in fatigue, meaning an athlete can run harder and for longer.
UKAD, the UK’s anti-doping agency, UKAD, conducted a 14-month investigation, which concluded in August, into whether the three Britons had any involvement with the accused men which involved sending a two-man team to Kenya in summer 2016.
“Last year, we opened an investigation into allegations that, potentially, British athletes were obtaining and using banned substances in Kenya. This involved sending UKAD investigators over to Kenya where they worked closely with the police and the Kenyan anti-doping agency.
“We understand that criminal charges have been brought against a number of individuals by the Kenyan police. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further on that aspect of this matter.
“UKAD can confirm that our investigation has now concluded with no further action for UK Anti-Doping to pursue, unless or until new evidence comes to light. If anyone has any new credible evidence we strongly urge them to come forward to us in strict confidence. Our international work is a crucial part of our efforts to protect clean sport. We have jurisdiction over British athletes wherever they compete or train in the world and we often test athletes in overseas locations.”
– Nicole Sapstead, UKAD’s chief executive
The Mail on Sunday did not name the British athletes, but reported that their identities have been confirmed during their investigation in Kenya, including by the country’s anti-doping agency. Their names also appear in Kenyan police interviews related to the case.
A number of Kenyan athletes have been hit by recent bans for anti-doping violations including Rita Jeptoo, Lilian Moraa Mariita, Kennedy Lagat Kipyeo and Agatha Jeruto Kimaswai.
The seriousness of the situation has been acknowledged by the IAAF and their president Lord Coe, to the extent that Kenya remains on an IAAF watch list of rogue nations where doping and evasion of testing is easier than in many other countries.