29th April 2020

Local police investigating Iten syringe photos

Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has told the Daily Nation that local officers in Iten have begun an investigation, after Anti-Doping World published photos of used syringes which it claimed were taken at the Kamariny Stadium in Iten (see below). In 2017, the government promised to upgrade the stadium, which is located two kilometres from Iten. Although work has reportedly halted, it is still used by athletes for training.

Athletics Kenya questioned the authenticity of the photos. In a Twitter post (below), it said that the images ‘are meant to portray Kenya in a bad light and reverse the gains in the fight against doping […] we do not condone unsubstantiated reports meant to cause confusion and panic.’ It added that the picture ‘leaves a lot to be desired, including proof of their actual location in Iten. We do not believe that doping in Kenya has reached a level where athletes do it in open fields.’ It has asked the journalist to confirm the time and place where the incident took place, as well as those involved.

In its Tweet, Athletics Kenya also claimed that ‘similar pictures of syringes left in dustbins have been circulated in the past only to turn out they were stage managed’. This is understood to be a reference to a 2016 investigation, where investigative journalists found packets of EPO and needles in the bins of the High Altitude Training Camp (HATC), which is also located near Iten (video below – see from 2:10).

Athletics Kenya did not elaborate on its allegation that the pictures of syringes in dustbins in the above documentary were stage managed. The above video also features a Kenyan pacemaker at the camp, Frederick (Freddy) Lemishen Ngoyon, agreeing to buy erythropoietin (EPO) for €60. He has denied any part in arranging to supply EPO to athletes, and has claimed that he was set up by the documentary makers, a claim they deny. “It is true that we visited twice, however the idea that we set him up is nonsense, as you can see from the raw footage”, said Hajo Seppelt, who produced ARD’s coverage of the 2016 investigation. Like Seppelt, Anti-Doping World also insists that its evidence is genuine (see below). 

Sorry to say, but here Athletics Kenya are telling fake news. The photo i real. We havn’t written that this is from a…

Posted by ANTI-DOPING WORLD on Tuesday, 28 April 2020

As pointed out in the above post, foreign runners train in Iten. This includes Great Britain’s Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, who trained in the area ahead of the London 2012 Olympics. As the BBC footage below reveals, Farah was filmed training with Freddy Ngoyon, the pacesetter who was filmed buying EPO, during 2013. However, this was three years before the documentary for ARD, and there is nothing to suggest anything more than a professional relationship between the two.

As well as featuring footage of doping equipment in the HATC bins, the 2016 documentary also featured medical records supplied by doctors claiming that three British athletes (names redacted) had been supplied with EPO. This included the record of a top British athlete, which was supplied to undercover reporters as ‘proof’ that the doctor concerned had supplied 50 European athletes with EPO. 

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) opened an investigation in July 2016, closing it in November 2017 after concluding that the documents had been faked. How UKAD verified that the documents had been faked is unknown, as it doesn’t comment on investigations unless there is a case to answer. Seppelt and the journalists involved in the original investigation insist that all footage, documents, and photos are genuine, and said that they were never asked to supply the documentation by UKAD’s investigators (see below).

In July last year, an indictment by French prosecutors against Lamine Diack, former President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF – now World Athletics) and his son, Papa Massata Diack, alleged that British athletes, including a Gold medalist and ‘sports icon’, were involved in blood doping at the London 2012 Olympics (video below). The athlete was not named.

The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) was recently sanctioned for its part in obstructing investigations into a whereabouts anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) involving high jumper Danil Lysenko. As reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative in September last year, pharmacists are understood to be continuing to supply athletes with EPO in the Eldoret/Kapsabet region, more than seven years after the issue was first identified. As such, Athletics Kenya’s denials of journalists’ evidence may interest the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics.

Athletics Kenya may have evidence to corroborate its claims that journalists are staging photos and videos in order to besmirch Kenyan athletes. But until it provides details, it is likely to face accusations that it is covering up the problem rather than tackling it.

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