Torn athletes seek answers as Claudio’s case is deferred

Paris Marathon champion, Cyprian Kotut, flanked by Eunice Sum (left) and Janeth Jepkosgei (right), addresses ...
Paris Marathon champion, Cyprian Kotut, flanked by Eunice Sum (left) and Janeth Jepkosgei (right), addresses the media outside Riadha House on Monday. Athletes coached by Claudio Berardelli sought an explanation into the ongoing doping case against him. PHOTO/Michelle Katami/Facebook

The case against coach, Claudio Berardelli has been deferred to August 2 as athletes under the Italian trainer gathered at Athletics Kenya (AK) headquarters in his support.

Berardelli, who has been out on bail, was brought before Nairobi’s Milimani Law Court Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo who did not take plea from him with five other medics also appearing in the same court on accusations related to doping.

Top athletes from his stable including those in Kenya’s team for next month’s Olympics in Rio, told of the fear of being implicated, the anguish they are going through and the disruption in training the matter had caused as they sought an explanation to the woes facing the coach they maintain is innocent of all charges.

The prosecution led by Senior State Counsel, Eddie Kadebe informed the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions has asked for the files as police continue investigations.

The State said police were still gathering witness statements in the distance running heartlands of Eldoret, Iten and Kapsabet after authorities decided to consolidate Beradelli’s case with those of the clinicians.

Two are linked to St. Luke’s Hospital and Trauma Centre in Eldoret namely; Dr. Samson Kiprotich Talei and Ken Kipchumba Limo, Stephen Tanui alias Kalya operates a clinic in the same town while James Mwangi is a herbalist in the area.

Ogembo stayed Berardelli’s Ksh500,000 bond or Ksh200,000 cash bail terms while the medics were released with Ksh50,000 cash bail each.

They are being probed for conspiracy to cause injuries to professional athletes through doping, a situation that bars them from attending international races sanctioned by world governing body IAAF.

-Strong support-

Across town, athletes coached by the Italian who has been active in Kenya for 11 years gathered at the federation headquarters seeking audience with federation chiefs over the matter.

They did not find top bosses led by President, Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei in before addressing the media outside the building where they aired their grievances.

“We have come to explain our dissatisfaction with the ongoing case concerning our coach. Since he was arraigned, we have been affected psychologically and in training. He is special because he knows each and everyone’s ability and to get the best out of us.

“We fear this might greatly affect the number of medals for Kenya during the upcoming summer games in Rio Brazil because we depend on him so much, he guides and builds us and it has been very difficult working without him,” the Moscow 2013 women 800m world champion, Eunice Sum said.

“We are from the Milimani Law Court where we have following (Federico) Rosa’s case. Up to now we don’t know the charges against him, but we have heard him linked with Rita Jeptoo’s suspension. However, all we have come here to do is to express our concerns as we miss him, he has been instrumental to us,” the Beijing 2015 Worlds silver winner and two-time IAAF Diamond League champion added.

“I haven’t been training for the past three days because I have been closely following his case. I have not had a settled mind since I heard of his case as I always think of him,” Moscow 2013 women 5000m silver medallist and former World Junior champion, Mercy Cherono bewailed.

Sum and Cherono are in Kenya’s team for Rio with reports saying some of the affected runners are mulling withdrawing from the team since they do not feel they can perform to their best.

Chicago Marathon champion, Dickson Chumba, who is preparing for a possible defence mourned they had been left rudderless by the arrest and prosecution of their coach.

“They have arrested Claudio and Federico and we don’t know what is going. This matter has made us lack sleep and when we get here, nothing is going on,” he moaned.

Osaka 2007 women’s 800m world champion and Beijing 2008 Olympics silver medallist, Janeth ‘Eldoret Express’ Jepkosgei, Paris winner, Cyprian Kotut, Rome titleholder, Amos Kipruto made the Riadha trip.

Osaka Worlds men 800m gold medallist and Beijing Olympics bronze winner, Alfred Kirwa Yego, Margaret Agai and Dominic Ruto were among others in the group.

Additional reporting by Mutwiri Mutuota/Edward Mokuah

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