Team Kenya coach Julius Kirwa admits doping claims hanging over agents Federico Rosa and Claudio Berardelli are taking a toll on athletes’ preparations for Rio Olympics.
Kirwa told FeverPitch the effects on Olympics-bound athletes are telling, but they were doing everything possible to counsel them.
The respected athletics coach spoke hours after the Kibera Law Courts declined to release Rosa’s passport to enable him travel for Rio Olympics.
The court withheld Rosa’s passport as security after he was charged with doping. Several athletes under Rosa’s stable have been skipping training in Eldoret in solidarity with their manager every time he appears in court.
“We know and understand how much they are close to their manager. But as coaches here, we are also counsellors and parents. We do our best to advise them to look at the bigger picture,” Kirwa said yesterday.
“A court case can take long but the Olympics is big. We are telling them to understand that they have a national duty at hand, and so they must take it with the seriousness it deserves.
“If Federico has not committed an offence, then he will be freed. Let the athletes allow the court to do its job. We know very well that Federico has invested in these athletes in training and even organising races for them abroad and they (athletes) love him. But the Olympics is the hallmark of the sporting prowess,” said Kirwa.
Federico made an application to have his passport released, arguing he was training 10 athletes, who are heading to the Olympics and “his presence was required for their win”.
But Kibera Principal Magistrate Bernard Ochoi dismissed the application, noting that he had not produced evidence showing that he was responsible for the 10 athletes.
“The court has considered the two applications, one for bond and the other for the release of his passport. The sole reason for the release of the accused passport is to enable him travel out of the country to manage Kenyan athletes.
“However, I have noted that the accused did not produce any official document to confirm that he manages these athletes, not even affidavits of these athletes have been attached to confirm these,” Ochoi ruled.
Rosa, 30, had also told the court that he has massive investments in Kabsabet and Kaptagat, which could be used to secure his release, but the court found that he had not produced relevant documents to verify the claim.
“He has not shown any attachment to them (investment),” the magistrate noted, adding that a list he had produced showing that he was an IAAF approved trainer was not certified by the international athletics body.
The prosecution had earlier applied to have Rosa detained for four days at Kileleshwa Police Station for fear he would interfere with the investigations relating to the doping allegations.
Magistrate Ochoi, however, noted that if he produces certified documents showing that he is an athletes’ manager, the court would not hesitate to release the passport.
“The reasons given by the accused persons are good and warrant positive consideration but they lack backing evidence. This court is alive to the fact that doping is a menace threatening the country’s heritage in athletics, but at the moment the law presupposes that the accused is innocent until they are proven guilty.
“The court will therefore not hesitate to consider the above orders if sufficient evidence is tabled in court showing indeed that the accused is involved in managing and mentoring Kenyan athletes preparing for the Olympics,” the court ruled.
Mr Ochoi, ordered that the Italian national be released on Sh500,000 bond with two Kenyan sureties of similar amount.
Rosa was charged with six accounts of doping among them, for aiding Rita Jeptoo in 2014 and another runner, Elijah Boit, between 2004 and 2008, in doping.
By January this year, 18 Kenyan athletes had been suspended over doping allegations, with one of Kenya’s best marathoners Rita Jeptoo among them. More than 40 Kenyan athletes have failed drugs tests since 2004.
Lawyers, Katwa Kigen, Moses Kurgat and James Nyiha, represent Rosa in the criminal case.
The mention was set for August 8.