August 14, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO — Jemima Sumgong no doubt would like the world to just celebrate her historic marathon gold medal at the Olympics, the first for a Kenyan woman.
However, with with her agent, Federico Rosa, under arrest and set to return to Kenya to appear on August 26 for a trial to determine whether he was involved in the doping of athletes, including Sumgong’s former training partner Rita Jeptoo, it is not possible for the world to just celebrate Sumgong’s victory. They have to wonder if what they saw was real.
When asked by LetsRun.com how she would respond to people who were suspicious of her performances due to the doping corruption problems in Kenya, her agent being under arrest, and her former training partner serving a drug suspension, Sumgong, in very strong and forceful terms, did her best to tell the world she is clean.
She looked very confidently at LetsRun.com’s Weldon Johnson after he asked the question at the press conference and said, “We are clean athletes. In Kenya we are clean. Maybe doping (is) here and there. We are very clean. We assure you we are clean. With the scandal of Rita I don’t know about it (the details). With Federico Rosa I don’t know (the details). As an athlete, he is my manager. With the company of Rosa Associati, they are clean,” she said, trying to address all the various points of the question asked. Rita spoke clearly and paused between sentences and then added, “With the Kenyan athletes, we are sure we are clean. Myself I am sure I am clean. No doping scandal at all (with me).”
That’s seven “cleans” for those counting at home.
Federico Rosa Is the Manager of Kenya’s First Male Olympic Marathon Champ and Female Marathon Champ
Federico Rosa is out on bail and in Rio, but he is credentialed as a representative with the Ugandan Olympic team. That gave him access to the restricted area after the marathon where he was able to interact with a Kenyan manager and congratulate Sumgong.
Rosa said he could not directly discuss the specifics of the charges against him because he is facing a trial, but he expressed confidence in being found innocent and his confidence in the Kenyan justice system. We asked him if he could discuss whether there was a doping problem in general and he said, “We always say there is, but where is the real problem?” indicating it was not with him.
When asked about Jeptoo’s case he said, “Rita said also where she did it (got the drugs)” and indicated in numerous interviews Rita had said who provided her with drugs (he did not identify that person to us; in this story from November, she blames a doctor but does not name him). Rosa believes that person has been arrested. When asked whether he was surprised with Rita testing positive he said, “I was very surprised but after thinking about what she did, I have to be more…how can I say, more cool on the result she had done because it was very strong. Maybe I should have (thought) before (that she was on drugs).”
He said now he has put more measures in place to try to monitor his athletes. Unlike Sumgong, he was could not express absolute confidence in everyone saying a more realistic, “We cannot be sure about everything, now is (the time) to celebrate the gold medal in the Olympics, nothing else.”
On celebrating Sumgong’s medal he said, “I am happy and proud of course,” but then acknowledged that we all can’t just celebrate it adding, “I feel much better but I have to go back and face the trial. I trust the Kenyan justice system one hundred percent. I focus on what is going to happen (when I get cleared).”
When asked what he would say to those suspicious of Sumgong and why she would be different than Jeptoo, he indicated she has passed her tests and now “The doping tests are much more accurate (in Kenya).” We can only hope so.
Protestors tried to disrupt the marathon and according to AFP five of them tried to climb over barriers, but when they did were chased off by police. At least one was seen running across the course in front of runners on the broadcast.
Sumgong was repeatedly asked if she was worried when she saw them but she said she was not. “About me, I was not worried at all. Everything was safe because officers were all over the road. Nothing was going to happen because the police officers were there.”
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