(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Wednesday it was 'extremely troubled' by reports claiming banned Kenyan athletes were asked for money to reduce their doping suspensions.
Athletes Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga told the Associated Press that federation CEO Isaac Mwangi asked each for $24,000 to reduce the four-year bans they were given after testing positive at last year's world championships in Beijing.
Mwangi dismissed the claims as a "fabrication".
"WADA is most disturbed by these reports regarding extortion and bribery at the national level of sport," WADA Director General David Howman said in a statement.
He said they were "eerily similar sounding" to what had been learned through a recent independent commission investigation into widespread doping in international athletics.
The report found that a clique run by former IAAF president Lamine Diack covered up organized doping and blackmailed athletes while senior officials looked the other way.
Diack is under formal investigation in France on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering linked to the concealment of positive drug tests in concert with Russian officials.
"WADA will of course require more detailed information on these allegations from those concerned so that we can determine if this is a matter for us to investigate or for the (IAAF) ethics commission as part of its own enquiries," Howman said of the latest claims.
"The allegations we have heard this week also illustrate the importance of having a robust, independent national anti-doping organization fully functional in Kenya at the earliest opportunity," he added.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Nick Mulvenney)