Athletics Kenya Suspends Top Athletes’ Agents

Foreign agents cannot work in the country for at least six months while investigations are taking place.

Athletics Kenya, the governing body that presides over Kenya’s top track and road racing stars, has suspended some of their star distance runners’ European agents from working in the country for six months so investigations into recent doping convictions and allegations can be carried out, according to an AP report on Monday.

The two agencies suspended are Volare Sports, a Gerard van Der Veen-led agency based in the Netherlands, and Rosa & Associati, an Italian firm. Volare’s clients include marathon world-record holder Dennis Kimetto and former world-record holder and reigning New York City Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang, as well as Geoffrey Mutai, the 2011 Boston and New York City Marathon champion and course-record holder at both of those events. Caroline Kilel, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion who is expected to be on the starting line next Monday in Hopkinton, is also a Volare client.

Federico Rosa, who has been representing Kenyan athletes since 1996 and has several training camps set up in the country, was the agent for the recently suspended Rita Jeptoo, who is serving a two-year doping ban after failing an out-of-competition drug test prior to winning last fall’s Chicago Marathon. He also represents Jemima Sumgong, Jeptoo’s training partner, who in 2012 failed a drug test for prednisolone (that was later reversed) and formerly served as the agent for Mathew Kisorio, a sub-59 minute half marathoner who tested positive for steroids in 2012.

RELATED: Exclusive Interview with Federico Rosa

Rosa told in an exclusive interview last fall that there is “absolutely” a doping problem in Kenya. He went on to say, “When I used to work back in the late 90s, early 2000s, it was really difficult to convince an athlete to take even a tablet for fever or bring [them] to a hospital. It was a completely different mentality. Right now it’s completely changed because a situation like races in China where there is no doping (control), $40,000 for winning, athletes will go.”

Earlier this year Rosa reportedly followed through on his promise to institute regular blood testing for all his Kenyan athletes, bringing a blood testing machine to Kenya in January. That month, it was announced that the World Marathon Majors organization pledged support for a new anti-doping agency in East Africa, where on-site testing has been virtually non-existent in the past two decades.

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