NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's athletics federation on Thursday dismissed allegations of bribery against its chief executive, saying two athletes who accused Isaac Mwangi of seeking payments to reduce their doping suspensions were acting out of malice.
Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga told the Associated Press that Mwangi asked each athlete for $24,000 to reduce the four-year bans they were given after testing positive for a banned substance during last year's world championships in Beijing.
Mwangi, who was appointed CEO of Athletics Kenya (AK) in 2013, has denied that any conversation took place regarding any sort of payment.
AK said in a statement the allegations were "malicious and aimed at maligning the character of individuals as well as those of the national federation".
It added: "This matter will be pursued through the relevant legal channels to ensure that it is dealt with expeditiously."
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said it is "extremely troubled" by the reports
Kenya's middle- and long-distance athletes are favorites to win gold in many track and field events at the Rio Olympic Games in August, but its preparations have been disrupted by allegations of widespread doping.
About 40 Kenyan runners have failed drugs tests in the past few years, while three AK officials have been referred to the Ethics Board of athletics' world governing body over corruption allegations.
The scandals have stoked fears Kenya could follow Russia and be suspended from athletics over doping.
(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Trevelyan)