(YouPostTheNews) – DOPING; THE BANE ON KENYAN ATHLETICS
BY JEFFERSON KIPKEMOI.
When Hans-Joachim “Hajo” Seppelt a freelance journalist for ARD, a nationwide German TV and radio broadcasting network located in Berlin first broke a story on alleged doping claims on Kenyan athletes in late 2012 he was dismissed as an international journalist out to ruin the reputation of Kenyan world beaters.
The report by Mr. Seppelt who spent time undercover in Kenya posing as a sports agent was broadcast on German television and radio and created much controversy and frantic actions at the Athletics Kenya.
The then World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey visited Kenya and asked the sports officials to investigate the matter.
Following the incriminating broadcast the then, Athletics Kenya’s Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat announced an ultimatum on October 17th, 2012 that all foreign coaches working in Kenya without permits must leave the country in one week’s time. This was just one week after the report aired.
During the period Mathew Kisorio one of the athletes implicated, also received a two-year suspension from participating in athletics activities. But all these happened with a pinch of salt as still no one was willing to accept that doping among Kenyan athletes was rife.
However, three years down the line 40 Kenyan athletes have been suspended from active participation in competitive athletics by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) the world athletics governing body for doping related irregularities for the past three years.
Top Kenyan athletics officials have not been spared in the crackdown on performance enhancement drugs.
Mr. David Okeyo, Athletics Kenya Secretary-General and member of International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) governing council, former Athletics Kenya president Mr. Isaiah Kiplang’at, AK CEO Mr. Isaac Mwangi and former treasurer Mr. Joseph Kinywa were suspended after the athletes had been suspended.
Mr. Mwangi was allegedly suspended on doping related corruption cases after two female athletes claimed that he had approached them for a bribe to help them reduce the suspension period after they were found positive for banned substances last year.
In February 2016, the World Anti Doping Agency (wada) reported Kenya to IAAF as one of the countries that were non-compliant over doping. Kenya failed to beat the February 14th, 2016 deadline to comply by formalizing Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) activities.
The situation revolving around the allegations and suspension of athletes and officials related to doping as suddenly placed Kenya a world renowned athletics nation on the brink of being banned from the next Olympics.
The country however, got a reprieve after wada president Mr. Graig Reedie instructed AK to conform to doping guidelines before April 5th this year or face ban from 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio, Brazil in August.
Following the development Adak Chairman Mr. James Waweru said the body is working with the Ministry of Sports along with Africa zone V Regional anti doping organization to ensure that Kenya is fully compliant with wada regulations.
“The government has complied with wada regulations including funding for operations, staffing and setting salaries for Adak and developing programs for testing, education, and awareness campaign for athletes.” Mr. Waweru said.
He revealed that the process of making Adak independent from the Ministry of Sports through the allocation of offices were at an advanced stage.
In January this year the current Athletics Kenya president Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei urged athletics coaches and managers to ensure that their charges were in the right age bracket for the junior categories noting that doping issues was still dogging the athletics sector in the country and age cheating would further complicate the achievement and commitment by the body towards solving the doping scandal.
“We are committed to dealing with the doping scandal and I urge all coaches and managers to ensure that age cheating does not occur in the junior categories.” He said.
To further add credence and worry to doping concern Moses Kiptanui a three-times world 3,000 meters steeplechase champion between 1991 and 1995 said in a 2013 interview to Reuters that doping was taking place in Kenyan running camps.
"If you talk to athletes candidly, you get the feeling that doping is going on in these camps," he told Reuters.
Mr. Kiptanui, who was the first high profile former Kenyan athlete to allege the African nation's runners are using performance-enhancing drugs claimed that the fluctuating performances of some Kenyan athletes was a point of concern to raise those doping suspicions.
He pointed out that it was not normal for an athlete to run well at one moment and the following moment they could not make it noting that an athlete show consistency at their peak unless they have an injury.
Allegations that Kenyan athletes were using drugs surfaced ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games when German television broadcaster ARD reported systematic doping by Kenya's elite athletes who train in running camps in the Rift Valley region.
Athletics Kenya rejected the accusation and accused the broadcaster for wanting to distract athletes before the big event.
Athletics Kenya then secretary-general David Okeyo rejected the claims by Kiptanui and challenged him to provide evidence and defended AK that the body has suspended known cheats overtime and was committed to tackle the menace contrary to claims that AK was dormant and did not take action.
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