Athletics Integrity Unit suspects doping conspiracy in Kenya

Anjali Nayar

On Tuesday, Kenyan doping-related suspensions reached a new high with the eight-year suspension of the 26-year-old 800m runner and Commonwealth Games finalist Eglay Nalyanya. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) found some alarming similarities between Nalyanya’s case and the previous case of Betty Lempusuncovering a savvy operation that helps Kenyan athletes try to cover up doping offenses.

An anti-doping disciplinary tribunal convened by the AIU found striking similarities between the two recent tampering cases involving Nalyanya and Lempus. The behavior amounts to “criminal conduct involving fraud,” the AIU said.

Nalyanya, who was eighth in the 800m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, tested positive for testosterone and was found guilty of the use of a prohibited substance and tampering or attempted tampering with doping control.

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Eglay Nalyanya representing Kenya at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan. Photo: W/C

In January 2023, Lempus, 31, was banned for five years for two anti-doping rule violations.

Both Nalyanya and Lempus told the AIU that they had received intramuscular injections while being treated at the same Kenyan hospital in Eldoret, and produced medical documents to support their claims. The AIU found that the documents provided were false, the doctors were made up, and neither athlete had received an injection.

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Kenya’s Betty Lempus at the 2021 Paris Half Marathon. Photo: @semideparis/Twitter

The AIU found identical wording in the letter from Lempus’s made-up doctor (doctor Phillip Murey) and Nalyanya’s made-up doctor (doctor Davis Lukorito Wanambisi). “It looks as if it was written by the same individual as the equivalent letter in the present case,” read a statement from the AIU. “The pattern of behavior is remarkably similar.”

The panel concluded that there is a group of Kenyan athletes who are being assisted by someone with medical knowledge to commit fraud. “This is a serious threat to our sport, and we will take all possible steps to find out how this is occurring,” said the AIU.

Nalyanya is the 66th Kenyan athlete to join the banned list. As a result, the Kenyan government has committed $25 million to the fight against doping in athletics over the next five years.

The AIU has been asked by World Athletics to work with the Kenyan Government, Athletics Kenya and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) to attack this ongoing crisis.

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