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2nd Kenya official sent home after impersonating one of the runners

12 August 2016, 07:30

Rio De Janeiro — A second Kenyan track and field official was expelled from the Olympics on Thursday after he pretended to be one of the team's 800-meter runners at a doping test and gave a sample in the athlete's name.

The incident may have been the unintended result of the runner, Ferguson Rotich, giving the official his accreditation card so he could have a free breakfast in the athletes village.

Still, the International Olympic Committee opened an investigation after John Anzrah was found with Rotich's Olympic accreditation, and provided the doping sample and signed doping forms in the name of Rotich, Kenyan team leader Stephen Arap Soi said.

Anzrah, a former sprinter and now a track coach, was reported to authorities by doping control officers after the test, Arap Soi said.

"The problem with John Anzrah is he took possession of an identity card (accreditation) of an athlete who was in the list of WADA for out-of-competition dope testing," Arap Soi said. "He was ... taken to the doping control station purportedly as Ferguson Rotich and subjected to produce the sample and he signed. The crime he has committed (is) against Team Kenya and that is why we are sending him back home."

The International Olympic Commitee set up a disciplinary commission to look into the incident.

"We take note of the decision of the Kenyan Olympic Committee to send home its athletics coach following a violation of anti-doping rules and we thank the NOC for its swift action," the IOC said.

The IAAF will seek information on the incident from the IOC and could launch its own investigation, governing body spokesman Yannis Nikolaou said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

This is the second doping scandal to hit Kenya's track team at the Olympics, and comes with Kenyan athletics in the midst of a doping crisis and under severe scrutiny in Rio. The Kenyan team has been heavily tested for doping in the buildup to the Olympics because of years of problems in the country, a powerhouse in distance running.

But this may have been a foolish mix-up.

Rotich claimed he gave Anzrah his accreditation so that the coach could eat breakfast for free at the athletes village on Wednesday morning, said Rotich's agent, Marc Corstjens. Kenyan officials also said that Anzrah was found in the dining area of the athletes village before the test, apparently corroborating that.

Corstjens said he didn't know what happened next, and why Anzrah didn't own up to the doping officers when he was asked to give a doping sample.

"Why didn't he tell them, 'Hey guys, this isn't me?'" Corstjens said.

After Anzrah was discovered, Rotich went to the doping test and gave both blood and urine samples, the agent said.

While Anzrah was sent home by the Kenyan team, the IOC didn't say if there would be any repercussions for Rotich.

Rotich finished fourth in the 800 at the world championships in Beijing last year. He is listed to compete in the heats of the men's 800 on Friday alongside teammate David Rudisha, the Olympic champion and world-record holder.

Anzrah is a former Kenyan 200- and 400-meter runner and competed at the world championships in 1987. As the news broke, Kenyan deputy president William Ruto had just arrived in Rio to attend the Olympics. Kenya's sports minister is also in Brazil with the team.

In the first doping scandal involving Kenya in Rio, its track and field team manager was sent home last weekend over allegations he sought a 10,000 pound ($13,000) bribe from undercover reporters to help athletes evade doping tests back in Kenya. Michael Rotich, who is no relation to Ferguson, was filmed seeking the bribes in Kenya in January and February, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.

He was arrested when he arrived back in Kenya from the Olympics, is being held in custody, and is facing criminal charges.

- AP


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