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Emmanuel Korir’s Training Partner Michael Saruni Handed 4 Year Ban By Anti-Doping Agency

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Kenyan 800m Olympian Michael Saruni has been banned 4 years for evading a test after running into a bathroom at the 2022 Kenyan champs and trying to pull a switcheroo with a friend.

Kenyan 800m runner Michael Saruni given has been given a four-year ban by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya for evasion of testing and sample collection at 2022 World Athletics Trials.

Michael Saruni, who was at one point sponsored by Adidas, is alleged to have evaded ADAK officials at the 2022 Athletics Kenya Trials for World Champions and Commonwealth Games. In the 26-page report, Saruni is alleged to have orchestrated a scenario of misidentification which involved running into a bathroom and having a friend of his pose as himself.

In a well-choreographed plan, Kenya’s middle-distance runner, Michael Saruni, deployed a look-like to avoid submitting his samples for testing before jumping over the fence to evade doping control officers (DCO) after his plans failed.

The Hollywood-like events happened on June 25, 2022, during the Kenyan trials for the delayed 2021 World Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

The 28-year-old, who holds the 600m indoor national record and reached the semi-finals in 800m during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, has since been banned for four years by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) for the offence.

Evidence produced by the four witnesses corroborated in a case that was heard and determined by the Sports Dispute Tribunal panel that had Elynah Sifuna-Shiveka (Chairperson) and members Njeri Onyango and Peter Ochieng.

The witnesses were Karen Wairimu (ADAK Chaperone), Antony Kamau (ADAK Chaperone), Fredrick Makale (ADAK DCO) and Michael Omollo (ADAK DCO).

Wairumu was sent by ADAK to notify Saruni that he was needed for a test and did so after a quick search online. He finished the race in sixth place on Bib Number 044.

“I approached the athlete at 1424hrs and identified myself as chaperone from ADAK and that he had been selected for doping control to provide his urine and blood sample,” stated Wairimu.

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“He acknowledged that he would comply with the process and requested that we go and collect his bag.”

Saruni walked to where he had put his bag just near the media centre where most athletes had left their valuables, and he changed his clothes into a blue hoodie jacket and black trousers with white stripes on the side.

“While changing, he told me that he tested positive for Covid-19 the previous week. I informed the lead DCO via text message that Saruni has said he has tested positive for Covid-19,” said Wairimu, adding that the athlete requested to leave his bag with his friend before they proceed to the Doping Control Station (DCS).

Saruni would then hand his bag to one of the three individuals who had joined him before proceeding to Gate 10, where DCS was. “He started coughing persistently as he hurriedly made his way to the washroom which was just near the DCS main entrance,“ said Wairimu, explaining that he followed him towards the restrooms, trying to catch up with him.

Saruni entered the male washroom stall, which he locked while still coughing, but Wairimu, who had followed him, immediately called Kamau, who walked in to keep an eye on Saruni.

Kamau confirmed seeing an athlete wearing a blue jacket with black trousers rushing towards the male washroom, and he was coughing as Wairimu followed him.

“Wairimu informed me that an athlete by the name Michael Saruni had locked himself in the first toilet stall. I could hear someone in the stall coughing and flushing the toilet, and I requested for the stall door to be unlocked,” said Kamau. “A male individual stepped out wearing the same outfit as the person I saw rushing to the toilets.”

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However, Kamau noted that the individual did not look like an athlete who had just finished a race and was also not coughing, hence alerting Omollo, who was just outside the DCS.

“He came inside the washroom and I told him that the individual looked suspicious because we are looking for an athlete known as Michel Saruni,” said Kamau, adding that as he was going back to the toilet stalls, he saw someone switching from the first stall to the next door, who latter happened to be Saruni.

“He was wearing a black hooded top and black trousers. I requested him to step out of the stall and leave the washroom with me so that Wairimu can identify him,” said Kamau.

But as they approached the DCS, Saruni started running and scaled over a grilled perimeter wall. “As he started running, I took a picture on my mobile phone,” said Kamau.

Omollo said that he found Kamau, who had summoned him, standing with a male individual wearing a blue jacket and a black trouser.

“Kamau requested that I observe that individual as he was trying to look for an athlete by the name Michael Saruni,“ Omollo told the SDT panel, adding that when the individual heard him confirm to Kamau that he was not Michael Saruni, he escaped from the washroom and started running away.

“I ran after him and he dropped some money but stopped to pick the notes. We caught up with him and tried to question him but took him to DCS after he failed to explain his reasons for acting the way,” said Omollo, who confirmed that the person he helped pursue was not Michael Saruni but turned out to be Dennis Mwangi Mburu.

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Saruni, who ran away, later claimed that he was never asked to provide a sample, adding that ADAK officials had not used any official means to identify him and never asked for his identification.

But Saruni admitted sending Sh70,000 to Mburu to withdraw from Mpesa, the money that Mburu had dropped while trying to run away before being subdued.

Michael-Saruni-Decision

In his application, ADAK lawyer Bildad Rogoncho said Saruni had made prior plans to have Mburu impersonate him and give a sample on his behalf.

The SDT panel said it was clear Saruni was sufficiently identified by Wairimu. He wore Bib No. 044 during the trials, which he didn’t deny.

The tribunal dismissed Saruni’s defence, noting that he paid Mburu Sh70,000 even after denying knowing him, only to state that the money was for Mburu to help him pay hotel bills.

From right: Michael Saruni (winner), Ferguson Rotich (second) and Emmanuel Korir (third) react at the end of the men’s 800 metres final during the Kenyan trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games on June 19, 2021 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Michael Saruni who also happens to be a training partner of Olympics Champion Emmanuel Korir under coach Paul Ereng was, at one point, one of the top middle distance runners in the world, qualifying for the 2021 Olympic Games over 800 meters and making it to the semi-finals. He is also one of the greatest middle distance runners to ever touch a track at the NCAA level.

The former UTEP standout became the fastest collegiate 800-meter runner in NCAA history (among in-season performances) with a jaw-dropping personal best of 1:43.25 in the spring of 2018. He also holds the NCAA record for the indoor 600 meters with a time of 1:14.79.


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