Anzrah: I did not give urine sample, impersonate Rotich
Deported Team Kenya sprint coach and retired sprinter, John Anzrah, strenuously denied he had given out a urine sample and impersonated Kenya’s 800m runner, Ferguson Cheruiyot, on purpose at a scheduled out-of-competition doping test at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The retired 1987 IAAF World Championships and IAAF World Indoor Championships 400m runner was speaking at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday night when he arrived from Brazil after being expelled from the Games.
His claims were corroborated on Saturday by a statement from International Olympics Committee (IOC) in what paints the entire incident that sent pulses racing regarding Team Kenya that is under the spotlight for doping racing.
Anzrah apportioned blame for his woes in Rio to the National Olympics Committee-Kenya claiming he was a victim of maltreatment that saw him suffer the indignity of being forced to borrow food from the athletes at the Olympics Village in Brazil.
He admitted Doping Control Officers picked him up at the dining hall since he was wearing Rotich’s accreditation badge and signed a form to stall the officials as he waited for the athlete who qualified for Saturday’s Olympics semi finals to show up.
“The incident you are talking about happened on Wednesday, it was very cold. We left the house for the village and were given a day’s pass that could be revoked at any moment.
“The athletes were very sympathetic with the coaches and they gave us their accreditation cards to use at the restaurant for meals,” the clearly heartbroken coach said at the airport.
“I went with Ferguson’s card to take breakfast and after the meal three guys came and asked me where I was coming from and since I had the athlete’s card they went through their list and told me I was one of those guys who was supposed to report to the doping stations which they explained was a random procedure.
“I tried to explain to them that I was not Rotich but they took the accreditation and started walking away to the station that was about 50 meters away. I immediately instructed (fellow coach Joseph) Mosonik to go and explain to Rotich that I was being held hostage with his card,” he explained as he paused for a moment to shake his head in despair.
“At that moment I was buying time for Mosonik to come with the athlete, a team Kenya official and maybe a doctor. They put me in a room, asked for my sample and I refused to give it to them trying to explain to them I wasn’t Rotich.
“Luckily the athlete came and proved using his passport to prove that the accreditation was his and he went in and continued with the procedure.
“If I had not bought time for Rotich, he would have probably been banned for refusing to take a urine test,” the retired former national sprint champion underscored.
He then narrated how Nock officials led by Head of Mission, Stephen arap Soi, turned on him when the incident was reported to authorities.
“I went back to the Village and I met my Chef-de-Mission to enquire about my accreditation then he raised the issue about what had happened earlier. I explained what the issue was and he told me that this could easily get me deported but I brushed it off,” he added.
The coach was quick to rubbish claims that he had given a urine sample calling for anyone who could prove it to step forward.
“I did not give my urine sample as they are alleging and I can challenge them to produce one because Rotich at the moment has four samples. Two for blood and two for urine.
“I however, signed a form in the process with the guise of buying time for the athlete to avail himself at the doping station,” he stated.
Anzrah was also taken aback by comments made by Olympics legend and Nock boss, Kipchoge Keino to international media that the national body had not facilitated his travel plans to the games.
“I got the facilitation and I have it so I can prove it. On arrival, I was the first person to congratulate Kipchoge on the award he got and the speech he made at Team Kenya’s headquarters.
“If I had been given my accreditation that whole scenario could not have played out then it would have been a different situation if I had stolen it from Rotich but the athlete gave it to me in the presence of Head Coach (Julius) Kirwa,” he claimed.
The official further told how his accreditation forms had got lost twice before the games and how Nock officials frustrated his efforts to follow it up with them.
“I was called by the Nock officials and told to look for a Visa so that I could travel to Rio and that when we got there they would furnish us with the accreditation which they didn’t.
“We arrived in Rio on Sunday (August 7) via Angola and when we went to the village some of us did not get accreditation so we were not accommodated. We were taken to someone’s house,” he claimed.
They included two-time world champion and former women’s marathon record holder, Catherine Ndereba, a Nock Member who was involved in logistics, Mosonik, Mark Barathon and physiotherapist Nahashon Kibon.
“It was rather unfortunate for me as I only got to see my athletes twice because we didn’t have access to them and we were sleeping in a bedroom meant for small kids,” he decried.
In a statement, adds Bernard Ndong the IOC is implying the incident was nothing else apart from a horrible mix-up.
“Chaperones were sent in search for athletes at the athletes dining hall. On the list was the name of a Kenyan athlete, Ferguson Rotich. At the entrance to the dining hall they noticed the name of the Kenyan athlete on the accreditation of a man wearing a Kenyan tracksuit.
“They informed the man he had to go to a doping control which he did and signed the doping control form. He followed to the doping control station, entered the processing room where the DCO – Doping Control Officer – wanted to seize his accreditation at this time he presented his passport with the name John Anzrah, which did not correspond to the accreditation he carried,” the international body said.
“The DCO contacted the doping control manager at this stage. The person explained he needed the accreditation to go to the athletes’ dining hall to get breakfast and he was a father of an athlete. We sent the chaperone to the right athlete right away; he was notified and arrived immediately at the Doping Control Station and was tested,” IOC added.
The Olympics body’s Director of Communications, Mark Adams however, said investigations into the incident are ongoing although there was no preliminary evidence to suggest any attempt to compromise the drug test.
“So, there are a number of questions but what I think what is also clear is that he didn’t take, as was reported, he didn’t take a doping test by the athlete or for the athlete and he was very obviously not the athlete and I think actually the line the person explaining he needed the accreditation to go to the dining hall… he actually had accreditation for wider issues but not to get into the athletes’ village.
“So, as I say, this is not over. We have a disciplinary commission which will continue to sit. The athlete in any case was properly tested and he took part in the competition this morning. We will follow up on that.”
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