NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Banned New Zealand Olympic runner Zane Robertson was arrested in Kenya over allegations of sexual assault and possession of an unlicensed AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition at his home in the East African nation, police said Thursday.
Police obtained a court order to keep Robertson in custody for five days while they question him and investigate. He appeared in a courtroom on Thursday for a short hearing. Police said he would be charged under the sexual offenses act and for illegal possession of a firearm after the investigation is complete.
Robertson was arrested Wednesday at his home in the town of Iten in western Kenya, one of the world’s most famous training bases for long-distance runners. He and his twin brother moved to Kenya as teenagers years ago to pursue their running ambitions.
Robertson, 33, is currently serving an eight-year ban from track and field for testing positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance EPO and for making up an elaborate story about a COVID-19 vaccination gone wrong in an attempt to explain his failed doping test.
The criminal allegations against Robertson stem from a party at his home in Iten on Tuesday night at which a woman said she was sexually assaulted, Keiyo Sub County Police Commander Tom Makori said. An unidentified Kenyan citizen was also arrested and will also face charges, police said.
Police found an unlicensed AK-47 and 23 rounds of ammunition in Robertson’s house when they searched it after occupants initially refused to let police inside, Makori said. Robertson left the property in handcuffs and with a blanket over his head.
The New Zealander won a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and competed at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, when he ran in the marathon and finished outside the top 30. He tested positive for the banned substance at a race in 2022.
In an interview when his ban was announced in March, he admitted to taking EPO, which is rare for top-level athletes found guilty of doping. He said he took the banned substance just once because he was frustrated and angry that he was struggling for results in his career and believed other athletes were getting away with doping.
“Many reasons, and it’s not just one particular reason,” Robertson told Runners Only in a podcast on why he decided to cheat. “I hate it so much and it’s just a one-off hit, and I got caught. It’s been building on me a few years. Frustration and anger at the sport itself.”
Robertson’s four-year ban was doubled to eight years because he submitted false statements from Kenyan hospital officials and others to support his lie that the EPO got into his system when he went to get a COVID-19 vaccination and instead was injected with a treatment for the virus that contained EPO.
Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.
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