Three men have been arrested in Eldoret after they posed as officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in a bid to scam Kenyan athletes out of large sums of money.
According to Kenyan newspaper the Standard Digital News, the trio were caught trying to con an athlete in a hotel into giving them KSh500,000 (£3,400/$5,00/€4,599) in exchange for not recording a positive doping test.
It has been reported that the imposters had already successfully obtained a payment of KSH1 million (£7,000/$10,000/€9,000) from another athlete as part of the scheme.
The men were arrested when the police concocted a sting operation, allowing an unnamed athlete to bring them to the hotel before they immediately swooped in and took them into custody.
“We found out that two of them were around waiting for the athlete, while the other one coordinated from outside the town,” Eldoret officer commanding police division Nelson Taliti told Standard Digital News.
“We asked them if they had any identification as officials from the doping agency which they didn’t have hence we arrested them.
“We will arraign them in court soon.
“This is a syndicate that has been threatening upcoming athletes.
“They claim to be WADA officials and order them to part with money lest they test them.”
The athlete in question, who trains in Kapsabet, around 46 kilometres from where the men were arrested, claims he asked them for proof that they worked for WADA but they had no evidence that they were part of the organisation.
“I refused to meet them in Eldoret and instead asked that they come to Kapsabet - they refused,” the athlete said.
“I consulted my coach who advised me to report to police, just in case they were conmen.
“I did so and we went to Eldoret with the police.
“I asked them to produce proof that they work for WADA and they did not.
“I then sensed they were not genuine as I have been tested many times by anti-doping officials.
“Police stormed in and arrested them.”
WADA had expressed concern over the African country following the publication of its first Independent Commission Report, where chairman Richard Pound claimed Kenya had a “real problem” with doping.
Kenya had earlier been warned they were in danger of being non-compliant with the WADA code if they were unable to give acceptable answers to questions about their anti-doping programme.
This prompted the Kenyan Government to approve the immediate establishment of an anti-doping agency in the country.
A host of Kenyan athletes have been given doping bans, including two-time Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo, who tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) in September 2014.
As many as 40 athletes from the nation have failed tests since 2012.
"WADA does not condone behaviour that breaches world anti-doping rules, including the apparent action of individuals masquerading as doping control officers in Kenya," a WADA spokesperson told insidethegames.
"Athletes concerned that their anti-doping rights are being breached in any way should contact their responsible anti-doping organisation.
"Furthermore, WADA is not a testing agency and therefore the individuals in question could not have been ‘WADA officials’ as has been suggested."