A Kenyan middle-distance runner has been handed a four-year ban from all competitions after trying to trying to evade doping authorities by sending a look-alike to give blood and urine samples on his behalf.
Michael Saruni, 28, was asked to provide a sample at the national trials for the 2022 World Championships, but attempted a series of ‘tricks’ to avoid doing so, according to a doping authority in Kenya (ADAK).
The official verdict from his case states Saruni ‘adamantly, evaded, refused and failed to give a sample or submit to sample collection and by collusion or trickery escaped or left the venue.’
Saruni is alleged to have walked into a bathroom after his race with another male before switching clothes with him and sending him to be tested.
His elaborate attempt to get out of the test did not fool the ADAK official, though, as they quickly spotted that they were not dealing with Saruni.
Michael Saruni (front) has been banned for four years after trying to evade doping authorities
Saruni (left), who competed at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, sent a look-alike to give a blood and urine sample on his behalf while he locked himself in a toilet
In a witness statement provided by the official, they said: ‘I noticed that the person did not look like an athlete who had just finished a race.’
Saruni was later discovered in the toilet cubicle by investigators, but rather than handing himself in he tried to escape by jumping over a barred wall.
At a subsequent hearing, Saruni claimed he was ‘baffled’ by the charge against him, insisting he had never evaded a sample collection and that he was not told by an official that he was required to do a doping test on the day.
He has now been punished for his fraudulent endeavour, with the ADAK giving him a ban that will not allow him to compete until August 2027, when he will be 32.
Saruni is a former 600m indoor world record holder after running the distance in 1:14.79 in January 2018 while representing the University of Texas in El Paso.
He also competed in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but failed to make it beyond the semi-finals.
Kenya avoided a drugs ban back in 2022 despite having 55 athletes serving suspensions at the time.
There had been growing fears that the East African nation could be blacklisted in the style of Russia by World Athletics, and Lord Coe admitted they faced a ‘long journey’ to restore trust in their anti-doping policies.
They have now had almost 100 track and field athletes handed bans over the last five years, as they continue to struggle to get their doping problems under control with the Paris Olympics less than six months away.