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Kenyans on dope? Show us proof AK storms

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NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – Athletics Kenya (AK) has lashed out at allegations made by a German TV reporter who claimed Kenya distance runners use blood doping to boost their performances.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, AK chair, Isaiah Kiplagat called on anyone with proof to come forward and take the matter to relevant authorities.

The federation boss was reacting to a report filed on Saturday by renowned sports journalist Hajo Seppelt who claims he spent time in various parts of the country where he posed as an undercover sports agent.

He reportedly and found out that doping is rife not only amongst Kenyan middle and long distance runners and but even with some of the foreign athletes who have been training in the famous high altitude area of Iten.

“This story depicts Kenya as a country that uses to use drugs to enhance performances. I want to assure that 99 percent of our athletes win cleanly.

“We in AK are not aware of any athlete who has used drugs and those found have been punished according to IAAF rules,” he charged.

He added: “We ask this journalist to come forward and present the details since we have exposed all our athletes found cheating and this is in the public domain.”

Kiplagat who was flanked by National Olympics Committee-Kenya boss, Kipchoge Keino, outlined that the federation had implemented doping control and education at its championships and meetings.

“We are not here to defend ourselves. If someone comes with details, we shall take the required action since it will also help us get to the bottom of this matter,” the chair who termed the claims as ‘defamation of character’ noted.

“We are taken aback by this journalistic childishness and we want this journalist to come forward.”

Kiplagat said there were strict doping control measures at events such as Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Junior and international marathons and none of the nation’s runners have been nabbed for using prohibited substances.

“The athletes we shall present for the London Olympics will be clean. We have performed exceptionally well and these claims are coming from people who do not want to see us excel.

“We will not allow these distractions to affect the morale of our athletes preparing for the Olympics Games. We have never shied away and will continue not shying away from shaming athletes who use drugs,” Kiplagat explained.

He asserted that international anti doping officials make numerous out of competition test as required by agencies such as IAAF, IOC, WADA and RADO and thus far, cases of violations have not been brought to their attention.

The AK boss added that they had written to the Ministry of Information seeking to have any international journalist keen on interviewing Kenyan runners to seek clearance from the federation.

“We have also asked the Immigration Ministry to seek our clearance before giving foreigners who are in this country to deal with our runners since some of them have been in Kenya for over ten years on tourist visas,” he added.

Commenting on the matter, Kipchoge who questioned the timing of the report as Kenya prepares her runners for the London dismissed the claims as baseless accusations.

“I’m shocked by the claims and it should be remembered that we were given a gold medal at the last Olympics due to someone who had used drugs.

“We are preparing a team and we are working with WADA. There are 5000 out of competition training and we have invited them here to test our athletes,” he added.

He urged anti doping authorities to visit the country during the National Championships and Olympics Trials since he believed the country’s runners are beyond reproach.

“We cannot send anybody to the Olympics who is on drugs. We learnt our lesson at the 2004 Olympics when we sent two boxers who had chewed Miraa (Chata Edulis) and they were returned home,” the retired double Olympic gold medallist proclaimed.

He reiterated that anyone with information related to substance abusers in the country to present it to the relevant authorities for action.

“That man does not want to see our country perform well but I know they are training hard to do their country proud.”

In his report, Seppelt even named some top Kenyan athletes including Olympic and marathon champions in his show where he interviewed a former chairman of the Anti Doping Denmark, Bengt Saltin who alleged to have noted varying changes in some of the runners blood levels between 2008 and 2010 when they raced in Europe.

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