Kipchoge Keino has called on the Kenyan Government to make doping a criminal offence in an effort to combat the growing problem of performance-enhancing drugs among the country’s athletes.
Keino, President of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), is seeking urgent talks with Parliamentary Committee on Sports and Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario to get new legislation introduced, including prison sentences for coaches and agents who encourage athletes to take drugs.
“The reputation of our sportsmen and women has been tainted beyond any imagination,” Keino, the Olympic 1968 1500 metres and 1972 3,000m steeplechase gold medallist, told The Daily Nation.
Last year, when Germany proposed making doping a criminal offence, World Anti-Doping Agency President Sir Craig Reedie criticised the move.
But Keino has been supported by Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto,who has claimed the involvement of foreign agents and managers are behind the epidemic.
“That [doping] is an unfortunate situation that is coming into our country,” he told The Daily Nation.
“Kenya has stood out for decades, since the 1960s when Ben Jipcho, Kipchoge Keino and many others were involved in sports and we never had instances of doping.
“It is only in the last year or two that we have begun to see Kenyans suspected or tested and found to be using drugs.
“We have natural talent and it should not be corrupted by people looking for short cuts, and most of the explanations we are getting from Athletics Kenya are associated with some of the managers of our sportsmen.
“It is my sincere hope that those behind the doping problem are reined in as early as now so that it does not get to a situation where they ruin our sportsmen and women or even ruin our status as a country.”
A total of 26 Kenyan athletes tested positive for banned drugs last year, including Boston and Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo.
It was announced in November that an indpendent organisation, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, is to be set-up with the help of China and Norway.
Keino, a former member of the International Olympic Committee, has also blamed foreign agents for the situation.
“Not all agents are bad, but there are a few who are misleading our youth and must face the full force of the law,” Kipchoge told The Daily Nation.
“I want to particularly warn any coach or medical officials against abetting drug abuse.”
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.