Koki Manunga and Joy Sakari, who were banned for four years, allege Athletics Kenya CEO Isaac Mwangi demanded money to reduce their suspensions

Two Kenyan athletes who are serving four-year doping suspensions have claimed the chief executive of Athletics Kenya (AK), the country’s national governing body, requested $24,000 bribes to reduce their bans, according to The Associated Press.

Koki Manunga and Joy Sakari, who it was announced had failed drugs tests during the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last August, told The Associated Press that AK’s CEO Isaac Mwangi asked for the money during a meeting on October 16, but the pair declined the payment as they could not afford it.

“I told him I’ve never seen that much money in my life,” Manunga said. “Even if I sold everything, I wouldn’t be able to get together that amount of money.”

She added: “He was waiting for us to give him money, so that this ‘thing’ disappears.

“We left, kept quiet and later that’s when our names came out and we were told that we’ve been banned because we did not deliver that money.”

Sakari, who competed under the name “Zakary” in Beijing, reportedly told The Associated Press: “He asked us if we could give him something. That’s what he said. He asked for money.”

Mwangi denied the allegations, describing the pair’s claims as “just a joke”.

“We have heard stories, athletes coming and saying, ‘Oh, you know, I was asked for money,'” he told The Associated Press. “But can you really substantiate that?”

The pair, who were found to have the banned masking agent furosemide in their systems, suggested they would be prepared to give evidence to the IAAF Ethics Commission.

The IAAF confirmed that the allegations made by Sakari and Manunga have been referred to its Ethics Commission.

The news follows the Ethics Commission’s decision in November to provisionally suspend three senior AK officials – president Isaiah Kiplagat, vice-president David Okeyo and former treasurer Joseph Kinyua – on suspicion of accepting bribes.

Kiplagat stands accused of accepting two cars from the Qatar Association of Athletics Federations during the bidding process for the 2019 World Championships which Qatar was awarded, while Okeyo is said to have siphoned off money from AK’s sponsorship agreement with sportswear giant Nike.

The trio have strongly denied any wrongdoing.