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Top African champion among Kenyans banned for doping

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African 800 metres champion Jarinter Mwasya and World Under-20 3,000m silver medallist Zena Jemutai are among 20 athletes suspended by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) as the crisis in the country deepens.

Top sprinter Samuel Imeta is also among the list after allegedly testing positive for banned anabolic steroids in a meeting at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on February 24.

In that event in the 100m, he had clocked a surprising 9.94sec to finish second behind team-mate and African champion Ferdinand Omanyala.

World Athletics did not ratify the times in the race due to technical problems, but Imeta’s performance seemed to suggest Kenya had found another top sprinter after Omanyala.

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It represented a major step up in form for Imeta, an officer in the Kenyan Army, after being knocked out in the semi-finals of the 100m at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

He was a part of the Kenyan 4x100m quartet that clocked a national record of 38.26 at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event in Botswana’s capital Gaborone, which qualified them for this year’s World Championships in Budapest.

That performance will be wiped out if Imeta is found guilty of doping.

The samples of the 26-year-old Mwasya, winner of the 800m at last year’s African Championships in Saint Pierre in Mauritius, tested positive for several banned substances, including blood boosting drug erythropoietin.

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Mwasya also competed for Kenya at last year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene and the Commonwealth Games, but failed to reach the final at either event.

Jemutai tested positive for the prohibited substance triamcinolone acetonide, a synthetic corticosteroid medication.

The 20-year-old had finished second at the 2021 World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi.

In March, she ran 31min 03sec for 10 kilometres to win the Villa de Laredo event in Spain.

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Others facing bans are Hannah Mwangi, winner of the 400m hurdles at the Kip Keino Classic, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, and distance runner Agnes Mumbua, who finished first in the 15 kilometres du Puy en Velay in France in February.

The latest revelations again illustrate the depth of the doping problem in Kenya and casts doubts over the performances of other athletes from the country.

Last year, the country narrowly avoided a ban from international athletics after vowing to tackle the problem.

David Howman, chair of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), claimed they are committed to working with Kenya to ensure that happens.

Last month, the AIU held a strategy meeting in Nairobi with ADAK and Athletics Kenya, while also running an online education seminar for athletes from the country.

Athletics Kenya have pledged to being committed to the war against doping and are working with the AIU to launch an operation involving criminal investigators and medical authorities to identify and prosecute anyone involved.

The Kenyan Government has also provided $5 million (£4 million/€4.6 million) worth of funding as part of the country’s commitment to cracking down on drug cheats.

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