Mark Otieno, the Kenyan sprinter suspended for a dopíng violation at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, has launched a bid to clear his name and return to the track.
Otieno pleaded innocent, blaming the violation on his unsuspecting use of nutritional supplements which contained banned substances. Among other things, he wants the government to lead sweeping reforms to regulate the supplements industry in Kenya.
He hopes results from an accredited lab on the supplements he used will see his suspension lifted allowing him to return to action.
Interestingly, Otieno has retained the services of SnoLegal – the sports law firm which represented Africa’s 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala as he battled a similar violation early in his career.
Omanyala was banned for 14 months from October 2018, but bounced back to have an incredible year in 2021 breaking the Kenyan and African 100m records landing him an Adidas deal and more.
So much had been the hype around Otieno, a former Kenyan 100m record holder, that Safaricom backed the 28-year old athlete ahead of the Olympics with a Ksh1 million sponsorship. The story of how he qualified for Tokyo using borrowed spikes to finish second in the trials held at Kasarani had grabbed headlines and tugged at heartstrings.
Otieno was supposed to shine alongside Omanyala in Tokyo as Kenya’s representatives in the 100m, but this was not to be. News before the race that he had failed the test left many fans of Team Kenya dejected.
The athlete admitted that it had been difficult since he was hit with the suspension but was determined to clear his name. He noted that the results from the lab on the supplements would boost his case.
“The last many months have been torturous, but I have stayed committed to the disciplinary process I was put under, even as I continue to pursue avenues to clear my name, I am grateful to have received this vindication,” he wrote.
Otieno has also petitioned the President, Cabinet and Parliament to develop regulatory and policy measures to protect new athletes from similar pitfalls. Breaking down the petitions, lawyer Sarah Ochwada of SnoLegal shared that they were;