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Kenyan Track Coach Learns The Hard Way That There's No Free Lunch In Rio

Team Kenya enters the opening ceremonies. Photo credit: Markus Schreiber/AP

A Kenyan track coach was caught yesterday using a runner’s accreditation, apparently to get a free meal in the Olympic Village, and booted from the Olympics. He’s an idiot, yes, but he wasn’t the only idiot. This story resonates.

As reported by Kenyan media, the Kenyan delegation exceeded the number of rooms allotted in the Olympic Village, so 61-year-old sprint coach John Anzrah was staying in a hotel in Rio. He was slated to move into the Olympic Village later on the day of the mishap, once other Kenyan athletes completed their events and vacated their spots in the Village.


As any businessman knows, those out-of-pocket lunches can really add up. Anzrah hasn’t spoken to the media yet, but it appears his only motivation for borrowing 800-meter runner Ferguson Rotich’s accreditation was to get a free meal in the Olympic Village. As an off-Village guest, his coaching accreditation would not have allowed access to the dining hall. A simple switch, a quick bite, no one’s the wiser, right?

Anzrah, according to longtime Kenyan reporter Evelyn Watta, was “making his way to the dining hall” (and one senses urgent determination—the man was hungry) when he was netted by anti-doping officials. Ferguson Rotich, whose accreditation he was wearing, was on the list for a random out-of-competition urine test.


Now, the anti-doping boneheads come in for some of the blame in this snafu. Though the graying 61-year-old clearly did not match the photo on the accreditation he was wearing and could in no way have been reasonably mistaken for an athlete, the officials not only failed to report fraudulent use of accreditation, but also “compelled” Anzrah to produce a urine sample they knew to be fraudulent.

“According to a source close to the camp, Anzrah tried to explain that he was not the runner they sought, but the officials insisted that he must produce the samples as stipulated. He complied and even signed the papers.”


Come on, what would you do in his situation? He was hungry, there may have been a language barrier, they were yammering at him to pee in a cup. Fine, he peed in the cup.

Even though Anzrah reported the mix up immediately to the Kenyan team management, who then brought the correct athlete, Ferguson Rotich—not related to Kenyan official Michael Rotich, who stands accused of offering to apprise athlete agents of impending drug tests in exchange for $10,000—to drug testing and informed the IOC of the incident, the hungry coach came in for a real dressing down. Stephen Soi, head of the Kenyan delegation called it “a stupid incident, stupid thing really” and wondered rhetorically to the media, “Who does that anyway?”


Instead of being allowed to move into the Olympic Village, Anzrah was sent home to Kenya, disgraced. The athlete whose accreditation he borrowed remained, and this morning Rotich qualified to move on to the 800-meter semifinals by finishing second in his heat.

It is unclear whether Anzrah ever got lunch.

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