- Associated Press - Monday, October 5, 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The former coach of banned marathon runner Rita Jeptoo has had his contract terminated by his employers after another Kenyan under his control failed a doping test.

Claudio Berardelli was no longer working for Italian athlete management company Rosa & Associati, director Federico Rosa told The Associated Press on Monday.

Rosa said he did not believe Berardelli was involved in any doping but “wasn’t on top” of the issue at his training camp in Kenya.

“We do not say that Claudio is involved in the problem, and we know he has nothing to do with it, but (he) was not able to pay enough attention to his own athletes,” Rosa said.

Rosa said the company oversaw five Kenyan training camps but there were only doping problems in the one controlled by Berardelli, and so “we decided to stop working with him.”

Three Kenyans coached by Berardelli have now been banned for doping: Marathoners Mathew Kisorio and Jeptoo, and most recently 800-meter runner Agatha Jeruto, whose four-year ban for the anabolic steroid agent Norandrosterone was announced by the IAAF and Athletics Kenya last week.

Kenya, a distance-running powerhouse for decades, has been hit hard in recent years by doping with over 30 athletes banned and authorities scrambling to find the reasons for the spike in cases. The country has been the subject of numerous allegations since German broadcaster ARD’s 2012 expose claimed the blood-booster EPO and other banned substances were easily available and being used by athletes.

In August, two Kenyans were sent home from the world championships in Beijing for failing targeted tests, while Jeruto and Josephine Jepkoech were announced last week as the latest to be banned.

Jeptoo is the highest profile after she tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test in Kenya late last year. Jeruto, who was a member of the same training group, was also caught in an out-of-competition test in Kenya in April, Athletics Kenya said.

Rosa & Associati and another European-based athlete agency, Volare Sports, were suspended by local authorities from working in Kenya for six months in April pending investigations following Jeptoo’s case. Those investigations should be completed by the end of this month, AK chief executive Isaac Mwangi said. Both agencies, which represent some of Kenya’s top stars, deny any involvement in doping.

Media in Kenya have instead said doctors and pharmacists are illegally supplying banned substances to athletes for money. Last week, a Kenyan television station aired an expose where doctors were arrested on suspicion of providing doping substances out of a clinic in Nairobi.


Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.

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