Asbel, Rosa athletes cry foul over manager’s detention

Asbel Kiprop, the 1500 metres three-time world champion celebrates with his trophy after emerging the 1st ...
Asbel Kiprop, the 1500 metres three-time world champion celebrates with his trophy after emerging the 1st runners-up in the Sportsman of the Year category during the SOYA Awards Gala at KICC in Nairobi, Kenya on January 15, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

Top athletes in the Rosa Associati stable have lashed out at the detention of their manager and Italian boss, Federico Rosa, claiming their camps based in Kaptagat, Uasin Gishu County and Kapsabet, Nandi County are not shelters of doping.

Federico, the son of Rosa Associati founder, Dr. Gabrielle Rosa was detained until Friday when he is expected to be charged at Nairobi’s Kibera Law Court with offenses related to doping.

His former employee and compatriot, Claudio Berardelli, was also sent to remand until Tuesday later on Wednesday after appearing at the Milimani Law Courts as the local athletics fraternity found itself embroiled in another doping storm.

Addressing a press conference in Eldoret, the athletes led by Beijing 2008 Olympics and three-time world 1500 m champion, Asbel Kiprop and World Half and World Cross silver medallist; Bedan Karoki the aggrieved Rosa runners urged authorities to treat each substance abuse individually instead of victimising the entire group.

Kiprop said the athletes selected at the Kenya Olympics Trials in Eldoret to represent the country at the Rio 2016 Games in Brazil in August will be affected greatly by the arrests of the managers although Gabrielle was not arraigned in court.

“We have been preparing well at the camps for the Rio Olympics until our manager was arrested and questioned at the CID headquarters in Nairobi over doping allegations and we now fear it will affect our performance and we know very well this is a vice being done by brokers and fake doctors,” Kiprop who took the role of the official spokesperson for the group charged.

The Daegu, Moscow and Beijing world champion who is tipped to add a second Olympics crown in Brazil alleged the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) has been focusing on the Rosa camp after three athletes affiliated to the stable tested positive for banned substances since 2012.

“This came up when big names at the Federico Rosa camp such as Mathew Kisorio and Rita Jeptoo were mentioned but there are other 21 athletes accused of doping from other training camps,” the 2010 African champion claimed.

Kenya’s captain to the 2011 Punta Umbria World Cross, Kisorio has since served his suspension while women 800m runner, Agatha Jeruto and the biggest case in the country’s history, three-time Boston and two-time Chicago marathon champion Jeptoo remain suspended.

Rosa Associati severed ties with all after they tested positive before the firm was suspended by Athletics Kenya (AK) for six months in May last year alongside Dutch owned Volare Sports on allegations of widespread doping in their stables.

AK later cleared both in October 2015 with no findings if any of the activities that led them to be proscribed made public.

Speaking at the same function, women’s London champion, Jemimah Sumgong, said she has trained for many years at the camp and she has not been approached by anybody at the camp to dope.

“Since 2007 when I joined the camp, I have never experienced any use of performance enhancing drugs,” the Rio 2016 Kenyan marathoner added.

New York marathon winner and London runner-up, Stanley Biwott is the other big name in the Rosa stable who will be hunting for a medal at the Brazil Olympics.

Speaking earlier he admitted, “This issue is affecting our concentration and preparation for the Olympics. We have not been informed fully why our manager is being held and it’s my hope he will not be turned into a victim.”

After finishing second to Sharon Cherop at the 2012 Boston Marathon, Sumgong tested positive for the banned substance prednisolone in her post-race anti-doping test and was given a two-year ban by AK.

However, she was cleared on appeal by the IAAF in September 2012, as the local injection which Sumgong had received was permitted under the governing body’s rules

Gabrielle and his son Federico were arrested in Eldoret last Friday by officers of the anti-narcotics department of Police and their hotel room searched before their travel documents were seized and directed to report to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) headquarters on Monday.

They were grilled for hours at the CID headquarters on Monday and Tuesday and a day later, Federico was arraigned at Kibera and police asked the manager to be held for three days for them to finalise investigations.

However, Principle Magistrate Bernard Ochoi ruled the Italian should only be held until Friday when he will be brought back to plead to charges.

Rosa have been active in Kenya for over three decades with their clients lists reading like a roll of honour of the country’s most gifted distance running stars.

Retired record holders, Paul Tergat (marathon), Moses Kiptanui (steeplechase) and the late Beijing 2008 Olympic champion, Samuel Wanjiru are among a slew of top athletes to sign with the Italian firm.

Report by Cyrus Sholim

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