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Kenya To Investigate Death Of Former Chicago Marathon Winner

Sammy Wanjiru

Olympic Champion Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya poses with his trophy near Buckingham Palace after winning the Men’s Elite 2009 London Marathon on April 26, 2008 in London, England. (Credit: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Police will investigate the death of two-time defending Chicago Marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru, who died from a bedroom balcony fall after he allegedly was found by his wife with another woman.

Wanjiru was also an Olympic marathon champion.

Charles Owino, the national deputy police spokesman, said Tuesday the inquest will explore whether Wanjiru deliberately jumped, was pushed or intended to commit suicide.

An inquest is a process of establishing the cause of death where it is uncertain or suspicious. Owino said officials will close the case if the police find overwhelming evidence that Wanjiru’s death was caused by his own actions.

“If we find that somebody was involved in committing the offense is when the matter goes to court before a magistrate and the magistrate reviews the case and makes recommendations that we arrest the person,” Owino said

Following Wanjiru’s death late Sunday police officials gave differing accounts of what happened. Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said “initial reports indicate that Wanjiru committed suicide.”

Police in Wanjiru’s hometown of Nyahururu say the runner jumped from his balcony after his wife locked the bedroom door and ran away after he found him with another woman.

Jasper Ombati, the police chief in Nyahururu, said he believes Wanjiru may have jumped from the balcony to stop his wife from running out of the compound.

Wanjiru had a history of domestic problems. Last December, he was charged with wounding his security guard with a rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid. The runner denied all charges and was released on bail. On Valentine’s Day, the couple announced they working out their differences and Wanjiru’s wife dropped the charges.

On Monday, two other women claimed they were also married to Wanjiru. Polygamy is a common practice for many Kenyan tribes.

In 2008 Wanjiru won Kenya’s first Olympic gold in the marathon at the Beijing Games.

Wanjiru also recorded the fastest-ever times in a U.S. marathon when he won the 2009 and 2010 Chicago marathons. He also won the London Marathon in 2009, and the Fukoka Marathon in Japan in 2007.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon executive director Carey Pinkowski released a statement on Wanjiru’s death.

“We are truly saddened by the news of the recent death of Sammy Wanjiru,” Pinkowski said in the statement. “He was a magnificent athlete who competed at the highest level here in Chicago, leaving a championship legacy at our event. The sport of marathon running has suffered a tragic loss, and he will truly be missed by all who knew him in Chicago. Our thoughts and prayers are with his young family.”

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.