YesMichael Saruni posted a final post on Instagram a day after the 800 meters semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics in early August 2021. “I will come back and make history,” the then 26-year-old wrote over an image showing him with a critical eye before the race, perhaps already suspecting that it will not be enough.
In that semifinal, Saruni set his personal best time of the season with 1:44.55 minutes, but the Kenyan was a quarter of a second away from reaching the final. From the dream of the race of his life, and worse: two days later, his two teammates, Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir and Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, would win Olympic gold and silver in a tactical race with times of 1:45. So while the two truly made history, Saruni had to admit that he had perhaps missed the biggest opportunity of his career.
His idea of how he could achieve fame, albeit without honor, turned out to be complete nonsense a year later. In the national qualifying races for the 2022 World Cup, the 1.78 meter runner tried to evade anti-doping control with a supposedly particularly clever idea. What on the surface might have worked for naïve Europeans was doomed to fail in the ruling nation of Kenya.
As the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) has now announced, Saruni wanted to avoid doping control through “deception”. He himself literally “ran away.” Saruni sent a double to impersonate him and provide a urine sample on his behalf. Saruni was exposed and has now been banned for four years until the end of August 2027. The fact that he claimed during the hearing that he had never been asked for a sample did not change this.
Thus, Michael Saruni involuntarily went down in history. He definitely has potential: In January 2018, the middle-distance athlete even set a world record, albeit only indoors and in 1:14.79 minutes over the rare 600-meter distance. And in April of the same year, the University of Texas student even broke a world record in the 800 meters, unfortunately only a student world record.
The problem: With his best time of 1:43.25 minutes he would be, for example, the German record holder, but he only occupies 25th place in the list of the best of all time. Kenya. And in Kenya there are not only too many good runners, but also too many cheaters: this Tuesday alone, ADAK announced doping bans for 44 Kenyan athletes.