The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has moved in to investigate claims that an Athletics Kenya (AK) official demanded money from athletes to pass down leaner suspensions against doping.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Ethics Committee had forwarded the case to WADA after two athletes, who got banned in the Beijing World Championships, came forward to say AK officials wanted money in exchange of shorter and favourable punishment after they tested positive to doping, reports Xinhua.

AK President Jackson Tuwei said on Tuesday that CEO Isaac Mwangi had been asked to step aside, for the at least 21 days, as investigations continue.

Kenyans Joyce Zakari and Francesca Koki, who were banned for four years after testing positive in the Beijing World Championships last year, have claimed that Mwangi asked them for 24,000 U.S. dollars each to reduce their suspensions.

“We went to the AK headquarters to ask about our prize money from the World Relays Championships in the Bahamas and he (Mwangi) wanted us to part with money so as to help us get leaner bans,” said Koki.

“But we did not have that kind of money and we told him we could not raise it.” The two ended up receiving four-year suspensions after their samples tested positive to banned diuretic furosemide.

Tuwei confirmed that Mwangi will take his annual leave and allow investigation to continue.

“The information we received from the IAAF Ethics Commission demanded that he steps aside. The investigations will be done by WADA who will require more details from those concerned to know the way forward,” Tuwei told journalists in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The decision came after an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the federation in Nairobi, which also had local and regional anti-doping body’s and the Olympic Committee officials present.

Last November, Isaiah Kiplagat, David Okeyo and Joseph Kinyua, who were in charge of AK, were asked to step aside by the IAAF Ethics Commission for 180 days to allow investigation into claims of bribery and abetting doping.

Sharad Rao, a Kenyan judge was appointed by IAAF Ethics Committee, to investigate the case and he said his report will be ready next month, after which, IAAF can proceed to prosecute the officials.

But in the meantime, WADA wants Kenya’s anti-doping agency ADAK to take charge of the doping claim case.

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