26 September 2019

Questions over Athletics Kenya’s ‘forged letter’ claims

Athletics Kenya has alleged that a letter published by journalists suggesting that its officials could ‘secure freedom’ for athletes accused of doping is a forgery. The letter was part of a video (below) published by German broadcaster ZDF, in which it alleged to have filmed two national team members injecting erythropoietin (EPO) in the off season. 

Athletics Kenya suggested that a spelling mistake on the Athletics Kenya official seal proves that the letter is a forgery. However another Athletics Kenya letter obtained by The Sports Integrity Initiative suggests that spelling mistakes on Athletics Kenya’s official seal are not uncommon.

‘We have seen circulating in the social media copy of a letter allegedly written by an official of Athletics Kenya’, read an Athletics Kenya statement (below). ‘We understand that the same letter is posted on the website of ZDF. A simple examination of the letter shows that the rubber stamp imposed thereon has the name “Athetics Kenya”. It will be noted that the word Athletics is misspelt, and the letter “L” is missing. The letter is consequently a forgery – a very poor attempt indeed to forge the rubber stamp of Athletics Kenya.’

Posted by Athletics_kenya on Monday, 23 September 2019

January 2019 Athletics Kenya letter also showing spelling mistake on the official seal…

As shown in the picture on the right, the official seal on a January 2019 Athletics Kenya letter to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) also contains a spelling mistake. The official seal is misspelled ‘Athletcs Kenya’. In other words, the ‘I’ is missing from the official seal, like the ‘L’ is missing from the official seal in the letter published by ZDF.

As such, the spelling mistake does not show ‘the length to which […] malicious persons will go in their attempt to tarnish the Kenya Athletics’, as claimed in Athletics Kenya’s statement. Of course, this doesn’t disprove Athletics Kenya’s claim that ZDF’s letter is a forgery, but it illustrates that is also possible that ZDF’s letter is genuine, and that certain Athletics Kenya officials may be misusing official seals.

‘ADAK [Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya] is an independent body set up by Statute to independently manage anti-doping matters among other things’, continued Athletics Kenya’s statement. ‘ADAK is the only body mandated to collect samples from athletes. Athletics Kenya has no role whatsoever in results Management other than education of the athletes. AK does not get in contact with sample collections, testing or any other issue concerning the same, it only receives results from AIU by way of information. It follows therefore that if a Federation is not responsible or involved in the results management, the allegation that money changes hands for covering results is nothing but a cheap lie.

‘Athletics Kenya is not aware of any person who has written a letter to indicate that the Federation has the eligibility to secure freedom of any suspended athletes. Athletics Kenya has no mandate to secure freedom of any of our suspended athletes when the information is already in the records of the institutions that carry our investigations, legal process and finally suspension’.

However, although Athletics Kenya may not have had the authority to interfere with anti-doping results management, this isn’t proof that rogue officials didn’t write to athletes claiming to have such authority. In circumstances where an official might be attempting to extort money from an athlete, one might argue that fabricating a fake official seal might be a sensible move. 

Earlier this month, it emerged that pharmacists in the Eldoret/Kapsabet region are still supplying athletes with EPO, seven years after the issue was originally uncovered. As reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative, this raises serious questions as to whether Kenyan authorities are keen to tackle the situation, or whether the availability of EPO is vital in order to attract ‘athlete tourism’ to the mountainous area.

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