Retired athlete, coach jailed over false doping allegations against Kenya

Retired athlete Elias Kiptum Maindi walks out of a JKIA court after being sentenced over false doping reports against Kenya.

Retired athlete, coach jailed over false doping allegations against Kenya

Joel Omotto 17:11 - 09.04.2024

A court at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has sentenced a former athlete and coach after they were found guilty of falsifying reports to paint Kenya as a doping haven.

In a landmark ruling, Elias Kiptum, a retired athlete, and coach Paul Kibet Simbolei were sentenced by a court at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Tuesday over false doping allegations against Kenyan athletes.

Kiptum received a one-and-half-year jail term, while Simbolei was handed a one-year sentence. The duo faced charges of concocting false doping allegations against Kenyan athletes, marking a significant development in Kenya's fight against sports-related corruption.

Their arrest in 2021 by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) led to a prolonged legal battle, culminating in their conviction last month for their involvement in an international conspiracy to smear Kenya's athletics reputation.

The court found them guilty of preparing documents that falsely implicated state agencies in promoting doping, with the sinister goal of securing Kenya's suspension from international competitions, including the Olympics.

The offences, dating back to September 16, 2019, to April 18, 2020, were deemed serious breaches of Kenya's sporting integrity. Despite Simbolei's release due to time served during pre-trial detention, Kiptum was handed a firm sentence as a deterrent against similar transgressions in the future.

In her judgment, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Senior Principal Magistrate Njeri Thuku emphasised the gravity of the defendants' actions.

“It is important to set records straight, Kenya has never had state sponsored doping. That was the picture the two intended to portray,” she said.

“The pieces of the puzzle put together during the trials of Kiptum and Simbolei with the help of 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 ruling shed light on the elaborate scheme orchestrated by Kiptum and Simbolei, with assistance from influential figures outside Kenya. Their attempt to fabricate evidence of state-sponsored doping aimed to undermine Kenya's competitive edge by casting doubt on the integrity of its athletes.

While the verdict serves as a victory for Kenya's anti-doping efforts, Kiptum has the option to appeal within 14 days.

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