Kenyan athletics chief to step down amid bribery allegations

Kenyan athletes compete in the IAAF permit/National Cross Country championships in Nairobi. Photo credit: Getty Images

Athletics Kenya's chief executive Isaac Mwangi has asked to step down for 21 days while world governing body the IAAF investigates bribery claims.

The investigation will look into allegations that Mwangi sought bribes to reduce the doping bans of two Kenyan athletes who failed drugs tests, the federation said on Tuesday.

The two suspended athletes Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga, who were caught doping at the world championships in Beijing last August, claimed he asked for money in exchange for more lenient punishments.

Mwangi responded in a letter to Athletics Kenya: 'The allegations have caused me a lot of mental anguish. I am anxious to have my name cleared.'

The World Anti-Doping Agency said it was 'most disturbed' by the claims.

Since 2011, more than 40 Kenyan athletes have failed drugs tests. This spike in doping, coupled with corruption allegations against top AK officials, has raised fears that Kenya could follow Russia and be suspended from global athletics.

Kenya last week missed a deadline to prove to WADA that it was doing enough to combat doping and faces being declared a non-compliant nation, which could lead to a global ban. But AK officials, including Mwangi, say Kenya has increased efforts to put a stop to doping ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei has said the newly formed Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) will conduct the investigation into allegations against Mwangi and report its findings in two weeks.

Tuwei's predecessor, Isaiah Kiplagat, and two other senior AK officials, are currently being investigated by the IAAF over corruption allegations. All three deny any wrongdoing.