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Olympics: No bail for bribe probe Kenya official

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | 

Beleaguered Kenya Olympic athletics official Michael Rotich will spend a month in police custody as investigators gather evidence over allegations he demanded bribes to warn athletes of impeding doping tests.

The Sunday Times newspaper and German television channel ARD filmed Rotich allegedly demanding 10,000 pounds ($13,000, 11,800 euros) for agreeing to give a warning when doping tests would be carried out.

The official, who was the Kenya track and field team manager at the Rio Olympics, was called home where he denied any wrongdoing after being arrested upon arrival from Brazil on Tuesday.

Rotich becomes the third athletics official to be charged under the new Kenyan anti-doping laws which came into force in June, and several Kenyan athletes have failed dope tests in recent months.

The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) had received “critical information in regard to the involvement of the respondent in doping from the Sunday Times newspaper in the United Kingdom,” Kenyan prosecutor Duncan Ondimu told the court.

He then requested 28 days to allow investigators to follow up “several leads” from the information passed on to the Kenya’s anti-narcotics unit, which the magistrate granted.

Rotich’s lawyer Ham Langat argued that his client was innocent and was facing “a malicious prosecution because of pressure from the international community.”

Langat attempted to cast doubt on the quality of the Sunday Times’ journalism, calling the video evidence “flimsy” and using the phrase “gutter press” against the newspaper, which he accused of timing the report to coincide with the Olympics.

Rotich had taken “a leading role to make sure the sport is clean,” his lawyer added.

In the media interview Rotich explained to journalists posing as a coach and agent how their athletes could avoid doping controls.

He is also alleged to have promised to alert them 12 hours before a dope test in return for cash.

Rotich becomes the third athletics official to be charged under the new Kenyan anti-doping laws which came into force in June, and several Kenyan athletes have failed dope tests in recent months.

 

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