Kiptum and Simbolei jailed for forgery

Two Kenyans have been jailed by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) court fabrication of documents to tarnish Kenya’s image as a doping haven.

The two-Elias Kiptum, a retired athlete and coach Paul Simbolei were found guilty of fabricating doping allegations against top athletes and sharing them with foreign media.

The duo prepared documents purporting that doping was being promoted and encouraged by several state agencies in the country, to have Kenya suspended from participating in the Olympics, offences they committed on diverse dates between September 16, 2019, and April 18, 2020.

Simbolei, who was found guilty of one count of the 13 offences, was acquitted after the court ruled that he had already served two years during the pre-trial detention.

In a judgement rendered by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Senior Principal Magistrate Njeri Thuku last month, the court ruled that the prosecution had adduced adequate evidence and proved beyond reasonable doubt that Simbolei and Kiptum conspired to forge information on doping in athletics to tarnish Kenya’s image.

The duo were initially arraigned in court alongside John Maluni, who died in a road accident while the trial was ongoing.

The judge said: “It is important to set records straight, Kenya has never had state-sponsored doping. That was the picture the two intended to portray. The pieces of the puzzle put together during the trials of Kiptum and Simbolei with the help of influential and powerful people outside Kenya’s borders attempted to present evidence that the government-sponsored doping.”

The court found Simbolei guilty of only one count of conspiracy to cause injury. The court, however, noted that Simbolei has been in custody since he was arraigned while a misdemeanour carries a maximum of two years. The court therefore served him for a period of the offence and was released from custody.

Kiptum’s case carried the gravity of the reputational damage to Kenya if indeed the documentary had aired, that he was not suitable for a non-custodial sentence and was sentenced to one and half years and given a right to appeal within 14 days.

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