Kenya Latest Country Blasted By WADA Over Doping Problems

 

Kenya appears likely to be the next country to be reprimanded by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) following a surge of recent drugs scandals and the lack of progress over the last 12 months.

WADA officials are currently in Jamaica carrying out an audit into anti-doping programs there after a surfeit of recent scandals and it appears possible that Kenya could receive a similar visit at some point in the near future.

Olympic champion and world record holder over 800m David Rudisha is one of Kenya's biggest names but the national reputation is under threat over its anti-doping stance.

In comparison with just two cases between 2010 and 2012, 17 Kenyan athletes have been suspended for doping violations since January 2012.

WADA officials visited last year as a consequence and it is understood that they requested for an internal investigation to be carried out.

But no results have yet been publicized.

Rodney Swigelaar, director of WADA’s Africa office, admitted the organization “are very frustrated” by the slow progress.

“It’s more than a year now since we went there and even longer since the rumors started to spread,” he said. “The procrastination has been frustrating. Officially I cannot say where they are at with their investigation. We have been extremely patient but wherever these things happen, it’s our role to go in there and ask what is wrong and why people are not complying with the code.”

This issue is likely to be discussed at the WADA World Conference on Doping in Sport, due to take place in Johannesburg next month.

Although WADA has no powers to directly sanction Kenya’s sports authorities it can rule that they are “non-compliant” with its Code.

It would then be up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide on a further punishment, with an unlikely last resort being the suspension of athletes from competing at the Olympics.

Kenyan athletes have enjoyed huge success in the distance running events in recent decades.

They won 12 medals, including five golds, at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow, and 11 medals, two of them gold, at London 2012.

Last year an investigation on German television alleged doctors in Kenya were supplying athletes with banned drugs in return for a percentage of their winnings from races.

A few months later, in February 2013, Moses Kiptanui, the former three-time 3,000 metres steeplechase world champion claimed the country had a “major problem” with doping.

Among those Kenyan athletes to fail tests have been Mathew Kisorio, who tested positive in 2012 after previously recording the third fastest half marathon time in history.

Following this failed test, Kisorio implied that there was an underlying problem and claimed that he “went with it because everyone told me, I wasn’t the only one – and none of the others got caught for doping.”

The head of Kenyan athletics Isaiah Kiplagat confirmed claimed WADA had given the Kenyan Olympic Committee and the country’s Sports Ministry a deadline of November to produce a report on their progress.He is confident the report will be completed in time.

“I can assure everyone that the Government commission will start its work soon,” he told the BBC. “We are hoping to start work before the WADA conference. I don’t think there is really a problem with drugs in Kenya. All our top athletes were tested before London [2012] and then again before the World Championships in Moscow this year. Compared to other countries we do not have a serious problem.”

The appointment of a new Sports Minister following elections in March along with the terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi have contributed to the delays in addressing the problem, it is claimed.

Kenya Athletics’ vice-president David Okeyo has reinforced the dangers of doping and the impact that it could have on the sport.

“It is the only sport, I must say, that sells Kenya worldwide,” he explained. “It’s really marketing Kenya worldwide because most of our athletes are good ambassadors to this country. Kenyan athletes must run clean.”

Okeyo also explained the steps being taken to “stamp out” the problem and insisted that “there is not an event we run in Kenya where we aren’t carrying out the doping [tests].”

He added: “That shows that we are very serious with the doping issue and if you are caught to have cheated, then we deal with you according to the law.”

The problem appears a similar one to that seen in Jamaica where a spate of positive tests have been recorded in recent months ahead of the WADA visit this week.

Asafa Powell, along with triple Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and London 2012 silver medalist Sherone Simpson, have been among those to fail tests.No one of the same profile has yet failed one in Kenya but concerns are rife that there are further cases which are yet undetected.

Contact the writer of this story at nick.butler@insidethegames.biz. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.

 

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