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Kenyan public support graft probe into athletic federation

02 December 2015, 19:04

Nairobi - The lawyer probing alleged corruption and covering up of doping offences in Kenya's national athletic federation has received "many" offers of people wanting to provide evidence, he told AFP on Wednesday.

Sharad Rao, formerly Kenya's deputy prosecutor, was appointed by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Ethics Commission on Monday, to investigate three top Athletics Kenya (AK) officials, suspended due to graft allegations.

After just one full day on the job, Rao said he was pleased by the level of public support - and offers of help to ensure the inquiry was effective.

Many in Kenya fear doping is rife among their top class runners, who have been the source of enormous national pride.

"There has been a tremendous amount of goodwill, and from among the many messages I have received from people who have actually welcomed the inquiry and said they were prepared to come forward with information," he told AFP.

"So with that kind of cooperation, I think will make my job easier."

Kiplagat, who led the national athletics federation for more than 20 years, was suspended along with his vice-president David Okeyo and former treasurer Joseph Kinyua over suspicions they had siphoned off sponsorship money from Nike and subverted anti-doping controls, charges they all deny.

Their suspension was the latest hammer-blow to global track and field, with the IAAF ethics commission suspending them in the "interests of the integrity of the sport".

Britian's Sunday Times newspaper alleged last month that Okeyo, along with two other then-unnamed officials, had siphoned off $700,000 (650,000 euros) out of the federation's bank account from a sponsorship deal between the national association and multinational sportswear giant Nike.

"The allegations which have been made...are very serious and warranted the investigation," Rao said.

Kenya, under scrutiny amid allegations of widespread doping in world athletics, this month announced the establishment of an anti-doping agency, with the aim of easing concerns over the east African country's internal anti-doping policy.

Dozens of Kenyan athletes have been suspended or banned since 2012 after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs, among them marathon star Rita Jeptoo.

Rao also called on athletes and officials to come forward to provide information that could help.

"Cooperation is really necessary," Roa said.

"Cooperation and willingness -- like the athletes themselves -- to come forward to tell us honestly what they know and what has been happening, without being vindictive against any of the three officials."

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