Doping Double Take: Michael Saruni Served Four-Year Ban After Failed Impersonation Scheme

Looks like it's going to take a more elaborate plan to beat anti-doping officials


We’ve all heard about the old trick of twins sitting the others exam, but this might be taking the bit a little too far.

Kenyan middle-distance runner Michael Saruni, once a semi-finalist at the Tokyo Olympics, has been handed a severe blow to his career with a four-year ban following his attempt to deceive anti-doping officials during the national trials for the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games in June 2022.

The ban stems from an elaborate scheme orchestrated by Saruni to avoid a drug test, as revealed by the Kenyan Anti-Doping Agency (ADAK). Saruni’s actions, which involved enlisting a look-alike to impersonate him during the test, have invalidated all his results since July 2022.

ADAK officials detailed how Saruni resorted to drastic measures, including feigning illness and attempting to switch places with his associate, Dennis Mwangi, in a bid to evade detection.

Doping Double Take: Michael Saruni Served Four-Year Ban After Failed Impersonation Scheme 1
Photo Credit: Jen Aragon

Witnesses recounted Saruni’s suspicious behavior, which included coughing persistently and rushing to the washroom before the test.

Despite Saruni’s denial of intentional evasion, the Sports Disputes Tribunal dismissed his claims, highlighting his financial transaction with Mwangi as evidence of his deceitful intent.

Saruni’s assertion that the money was for hotel bills was disregarded by the tribunal.

The repercussions of Saruni’s actions extend beyond personal consequences, as he will be ineligible to compete in the upcoming Paris Olympics. Kenya’s ongoing struggle with doping in sports is further highlighted by the recent announcement of bans imposed on 44 athletes, reflecting the country’s increasing efforts to address the issue.

Doping Double Take: Michael Saruni Served Four-Year Ban After Failed Impersonation Scheme 2
Photo Credit: Jen Aragon

Kenya’s commitment to improving doping controls includes plans to enhance ADAK’s capacity for out-of-competition testing, aiming to conduct thousands of tests annually to maintain the integrity of sports and safeguard the reputation of Kenyan athletes on the global stage.

Saruni’s ban serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of doping and deception, emphasizing the importance of upholding integrity and fair play in athletics.

As Kenya attempts to reinforce its anti-doping efforts, the case of Michael Saruni is another example of the ongoing challenges faced in preserving the integrity of competitive sports.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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