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Retired athlete, coach jailed over doping fabrication

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The suspects in court
  • The two had fabricated information to paint Kenya in bad light
  • They were allegedly to feed the information to foreign media
  • They will serve a year and a year and a half in prison

As Kenya continues to fight the doping menace, a retired athlete and a coach have been sentenced by a JKIA court to one and half years and one year in jail, respectively, for fabricating documents with a view to tarnishing Kenya’s image as a drug-cheat haven.

Elias Kiptum Maindi, a retired athlete and coach Paul Kibet Simbolei were found guilty of fabricating doping allegations against the county’s top athletes and sharing them with foreign media.

The duo prepared documents purporting that doping was being promoted and encouraged by several state agencies in the country, with the aim of having Kenya suspended from participating at the Olympics, offences they committed on diverse dates between September 16, 2019 and April 18, 2020.

Kiptum’s  co-accused Paul Simbolei who was found guilty of one count of the 13 offenses was acquitted after the court ruled, he had already served two years prison term during the pre-trial detention.

In a judgement rendered by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Senior Principal Magistrate Njeri Thuku last month, the court ruled that the prosecution had adduced adequate evidence and proved beyond reasonable doubt that Kibet and Kiptum conspired to forge information on doping in athletics with an aim of tarnishing Kenya’s image in athletics world.

The duo was initially arraigned in court alongside John Katio Maluni who passed on through a road accident while the trial was on going.

No state-sponsored doping in Kenya


The suspects in court

In her ruling, the judge said; “It is important to set records straight, Kenya has never had state sponsored doping. That was the picture two intended to portray to the sports sport. The pieces of the puzzle put together during the trials Elias and Paul together with the help from influential and powerful people outside Kenya’s borders attempted to present evidence that the government sponsored doping. The intention being Kenya competes and wins using performance enhancing drugs.”

The court found Simbolei guilty of only one count of conspiracy to cause injury. The court, however noted that Simbolei has been in custody since he was arraigned, while misdemeanour carries a maximum of two years. The court therefore served him for a period of the offence and was released from custody.

Kiptum’s case carried the gravity of the reputational damage to Kenya if indeed the documentary had aired, that he is not suitable for non-custodial sentence was sentenced to one and half year and given a right to appeal within 14days.

This comes as the country continues to battle to clear its name in matters doping, with several athletes having been suspended over the last few years, since Kenya was put in Category A of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) watch list.

Kenya on the brink of suspension


Sports CS Ababu Namwamba with World Athletics boss Lord Seb Coe

Kenya was on the brink of being banned by World Athletics over increased cases of doping, and it took deliberate action from the government, to ensure that the country remained in competition.

In 2016, Kenya was almost barred from participating at the Olympic Games over the same.

In the latest instalment, it took World Athletics president Lord Seb Coe coming into the country and meeting President William Ruto, where the government promised to put in approximately Sh500mn annually to battle the vice.

The increased funding to the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) would go into more testing and education especially in the athletics rich counties to try stem the vice from the root.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has continually said the government would stop at nothing to ensure that the vice is dealt with and Kenya clears its name.

The jailing of the two now further affirms Kenya’s ambition to deal with the vice, and also further affirms that the government is watching every single step.

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