By Isaack Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan athletics chiefs said dopers must brace for "an ugly future" until substance abuse is eradicated from the sport, a senior Athletics Kenya official said on Saturday.
Kenya, known for its middle and long-distance running pedigree, has suffered serious damage to its reputation due to a number of doping violations in recent years.
Two days before Sunday's London Marathon, in which Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge will start as favourite, world half marathon record holder Abraham Kiptum was barred from running in the event.
Kiptum was provisionally suspended from competition on Friday by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) following an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) violation.
"Brace yourselves for an ugly future, until this dragon is slayed. The Athletes Biological Passport is going to put a lot of pressure on our athletes who are abusing substance," Barnaba Korir, Athletics Kenya (AK) Executive Committee member, told Reuters on Saturday.
"Kenyans must have no mercy on dopers and severe punishment must be meted out. As a first step, AK unanimously passed a resolution yesterday (Friday) during the Annual General Meeting that any athlete who has been sanctioned for a doping offence must never represent Kenya again at any competition."
In the past five years, about 50 Kenyan athletes have been sanctioned, including former Boston and Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo and 2016 Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong.
Three-times world 1,500 metres champion and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Asbel Kiprop was banned for four years last week for failing a doping test in November, 2017.
Kiptum's violation was another embarrassment for the east African nation ahead of one of the biggest marathon events in the world.
"We have zero tolerance policy on doping. London is part of the Abbott World for the Virgin Money London Marathon Majors and we recently announced a ground-braking extensive intelligence driven testing programme," Hugh Brasher, event director for the London Marathon, said.
"This shows the programme is working. Cheats will be caught and there is no place for them on marathon running."
Kiptum's management team, Pineda Sport, condemned doping in a statement.
"PinedaSport management has always worked for the integrity of athletics and a strong believe (sic) in a clean sport as two of its most important pillars that sustains its success," it said.
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)