A group of Kenyan athletes have occupied the Athletics Kenya headquarters ©Saddique Shaban/Twitter

A group of athletes have stormed the headquarters of Athletics Kenya in protest at the leadership of current chairman Isaiah Kiplagat, following allegations of deep-rooted corruption within the governing body.

The disgruntled competitors reportedly entered the gates of the facility in Nairobi and locked themselves in, calling for the removal of Kiplagat, currently accused of covering up doping in the country.

They have occupied the building, according to local media reports, and are refusing to let officials enter the facility.

“Isaiah Kiplagat must go, we are tired of his leadership, we need change,” 400 metres hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett, also a two-times African Championships bronze medallist, wrote on Facebook.

The protesters also said they want former athletes to run the much-maligned body, with Julius Ndegwa from the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya adding: "We are looking forward to being led by athletes.

"Those who understand the pain of running."

Kiplagat, who failed in a bid to become an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) vice-president in August, told the BBC that "serious athletes are training, they have no time for demonstrations", and added that the demonstrations had caused them to postpone a meeting concerning the corruption allegations.

The IAAF announced last week that it had been investigating Kenya since March, which came after Richard Pound, who led the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report, claimed “it’s also pretty clear there is a lot of performance enhancing drugs being used in Kenya”.

David Okeyo, a vice-president of Athletics Kenya, has also come under scrutiny after it was announced he is being investigated by police in his home country after allegedly misusing funds from a sponsorship deal with Nike.

He is accused of illegally siphoning off funds from a sponsorship deal between the national association and the American sportswear giant.

It is claimed as much as $700,000 (£460,000/€650,000) could have been misappropriated, stretching as far back as 2003, though both Okeyo and Nike strongly deny the claims.

400 metres hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett is one of the athletes to call for the resignation of Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat
400 metres hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett is one of the athletes to call for the resignation of Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat ©Getty Images

Kenya has a turbulent past when it comes to doping, with 15 of their athletes currently banned by the IAAF.

Among that number are three-times Boston and two-times Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo, who failed an out of competition test for erythropoietin (EPO) in September 2014.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya chairman and Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972 Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino admitted that WADA were “seriously considering” a recommendation to ban the country from athletics for a period of four years.

Jeptoo, one of the most high profile Kenyan athletes to have been hit with a doping ban, insists an unknown doctor injected her with prohibited substance EPO, causing her to fail a doping test.

Claudio Berardelli, Jeptoo’s former coach who lost his job after the 34-year-old tested positive, has always strongly denied any involvement.

“It was not my coach since he respected me because I was his best athlete,” Jeptoo told sportsnewsarena.com.

“He received the message with shock since I was a senior runner who also advised young talents in the camp not to use drugs.

“If the doctor who did this had told me that it was EPO, I could have stopped him.”

Kenya finished on top of the medals table at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August, claiming seven golds, six silvers and three bronzes.

Related stories
November 2015: 
Kenyan doping "concerning" for all athletes competing in endurance athletics events, claims Pound
November 2015: Future of Russian Anti-Doping Agency set to be discussed by WADA Executive Committe and Foundation Board
November 2015: IAAF Council member who voted to ban Russia being investigated by Kenyan police for siphoning off funds from Nike sponsorship deal
November 2015: Russia suspended by International Association of Athletics Federations
December 2013: Kenya to open blood centre to help fight against doping