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New Zealand marathon record holder Zane Robertson, who is serving an eight-year doping ban for testing positive for EPO, was arrested for alleged sexual assault. When police made their way into his home, they found an unlicenced AK47 and bullets.
Police were working off of a tip.
Apparently, Robertson seems to have attracted detractors over the years. In 2016, he was threatened, he said, of being necklaced, which is the act of burning a car tire around the neck of the victim. At the time, he claimed the threats were very real. Apparently, Robertson had spoken publically against Kenyan doping, which brought him the wrong kind of attention. So, it was quite inconvenient that he eventually tested positive this past winter in England.
New Zealand long distance runner Zane Robertson arrested in Iten. Via @StandardKenya— Lynne Wachira (@WachiraLynne) September 20, 2023
The 🇳🇿 National record holder ( Marathon) is said to be in possession of an illegal firearm
In March, Zane was banned from athletics for 8yrs – he claimed positive test was from a COVID jab pic.twitter.com/w4yiVVE7zd
The 33-year-old Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was formerly married to an Ethiopian, where he had lived for a period of time. He has been away from New Zealand for as long as he lived there, having left home at age 17 with his twin brother Jake, who continues to reside there with his family.
Kenya has a love-hate relationship with foreign coaches
Zane Robertson is now a coach. Or was, but this will end shortly.
Kenya has a love-hate relationship with foreign coaches.
In 2013, Athletics Kenya’s president Isaiah Kiplagat blamed foreign coaches for doping issues that plagued the region. Instead of taking responsibility, he announced that all non-registered coaches had one week to leave Kenya. He was partially correct in his assertions. Quietly, at that time, famed coach Renato Canova from Italy left to work in China. Canova is famous for saying that EPO does not work on elite Kenyans, yet it is that PED in particular that some of the all-time best athletes have tested positive for. And race performances continue to get faster.
During the summer of 2018, the first WADA-approved laboratory was set up in Nairobi. It was a move hailed as a major development for the region’s doping crisis.
Shortly after, several more positive test results happened including Samuel Kalalei winner of the 2017 Athens Marathon, that November, tested positive for EPO. Sprinter Boniface Mweresa was removed from the Kenyan team after he failed a doping test. Former Commonwealth Games 10,000-metre gold medallist Lucy Kabuu was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for failing a doping test announced on Aug. 4. 2018.
Fast forward to 2023 and Kenyans are being suspended at a rate faster than any other country in history. From average sub-elite to some of the best in the world have been suspended for Athlete Biological Passport anomalies, tampering, missing three tests in a 12-month period and testing positive for a banned substance. EPO and nandrolone are two of the more common PEDs.
Foreign athletes will be subject to great scrutiny
Expect Athletics Kenya, the police and the government to take very seriously, the presence of foreign athletes visiting Kenya for the purpose of training at altitude and with the many top-level athletes available for training.
Zane Robertson may be an anomaly.
The removal of foreign coaches did not seem to affect the rate of doping back in 2013 to now. In fact, there has been an increase. With in-and-out of competition testing, the ABP, and the dedicated and independent body the, Athletics Integrity Unit, which is mandated exclusively to the sport of athletics, doping rolls on unabated. It is financially worth it for third-world athletes to dope — recouping prize money and appearance fees is nigh impossible.
Foreign athletes will be monitored more closely going forward. But it is the availability of PEDs on the street in Kenya that is the issue, here, not foreign athletes visiting. Until Kenyan authorities are open to stopping street-level supply in Nairobi and elsewhere, doping and the crime that often goes with it will continue.
Meanwhile, Robertson may be made an example of. It may not be worth the trip to train in the Rift Valley now.