By Isaack Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s anti-doping and athletics chiefs on Friday disputed a report by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) that ranked the east African nation as the third most cheating nation in the sport.
With 41 athletes banned for doping, the AIU said that Kenya, known for its middle and long distance supremacy, produced the third highest number of cheating athletes only lower than suspended Russia (87) and India (42).
“Although the report confirms to us that there is work to be done, we have done a lot in terms of tests, education and continuous monitoring,” Japhter Rugut, Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) chief executive officer, told Reuters.
“Kenya has many athletes, so comparing the frequency against the number of athletes may not give an accurate figure because the probability of getting positives are higher,” he added.
“The WADA-accredited laboratory has started operating in Nairobi and we have done many tests there. In the lead to World Championships (in Doha), we shall conduct at least four tests on each athlete who will be selected.”
Athletics Kenya (AK) Executive Committee member Barnaba Korir termed doping as a global phenomenon, but added that the frequent exposure of cheats “is a result of concerted effort by AK, ADAK and AIU in catching them.”
“Because of high concentration of elite athletes, Kenya may rank high, but if looked at from per capita perspective, we may not be too badly off,” he said, adding that testing will continue.
Kenyan athletics great Kipchoge Keino, however, demanded that the root cause of doping be addressed first.
“Who are these faceless people who are killing our talented athletes? We should start from there, then subject them to the laws of the land. They are destroying the legacy we built over the years and killing an entire generation of our youth,” said the 79-year-old two-time Olympic champion.
Rugut said ADAK is always in touch with AK to ensure tests and education are completed. He added that the WADA-accredited laboratory has also been handling tests from Ethiopia and hopes other neighbouring countries will follow suit.
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)