Kenya asks WADA for help

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenya's track federation is investigating accusations of doping among its famed distance runners and said Thursday it asked the World Anti-Doping Agency and police for help.

Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat told The Associated Press that his organization was looking into allegations by a German reporter and Kenyan athlete that performance-enhancing substances were being made available to runners by people posing as doctors.

Although Kiplagat insisted Kenyan runners were "very clean," the federation was still apparently concerned enough to investigate after earlier denying there was a problem.

"For us to get to the root cause of these claims and for transparency, we are inviting the police and World Anti-Doping Agency to assist us with investigations," Kiplagat said. The investigation did not confirm Kenyans were doping, he said.

In a written reply to questions from the AP, WADA said it was aware of the allegations and had communicated with the "relevant authorities." WADA added that an inquiry has begun and the agency will "monitor its progress." WADA was already running an unrelated two-year research project in Kenya into doping behavior.

Four Kenyans were sanctioned in the first eight months of this year by track and field's governing body for doping offenses, according to the international federation. That compared with one in 2010 and one last year.

Another Kenyan, Mathew Kisorio, a former African junior champion over 5,000 and 10,000 meters, tested positive for an anabolic steroid at the Kenyan Olympic trials in June and has been suspended by Athletics Kenya.

Kisorio, who in 2011 ran the fourth-fastest half-marathon, subsequently said many of his compatriots were doping. His comments appeared to back those of journalist Hajo Seppelt, who said he had spent time in Kenya and found evidence of widespread doping among middle- and long-distance runners in the country's high-altitude training areas.