NAIROBI, Kenya, October 23- Athletics Kenya (AK) will introduce doping control in the KCB National Cross Country Series meetings for the first time this season as the road to the 2013 Bydgoszcz World Cross was formally launched on Tuesday.
Speaking when the seven-meet series was formally rolled-out in Nairobi on Tuesday, AK chief, Isaiah Kiplagat said the federation would use some of the Sh10.3m ($124,706) sponsorship it received from the bank to purchase doping kit for the circuit legs they will identify for the exercise.
“We must have anti-doping exercise for every competition since this is where we shall clean the sport. At least, the National Championships and two or three other series meets will have doping control,” the federation president stated.
He added: “We will do it maybe in Kisii, Machakos or Nyahururu, we are yet to decide but we want our athletes when they come out to compete outside, they are clean.”
According to the calendar released by AK, the series will start in Nyahururu on November 3 and culminate in Kericho on January 12 before the Trials for Bydgoszcz are held in Nairobi on February 16.
Machakos (November 10), Kisii (November 17), Kapsokwony (November 24), Embu (December 22) and Eldoret (January 5) will host the second to sixth legs of the Kenya Commercial Bank sponsored circuit.
The doping issue has gained prominence in the country since German national television ARD ran a report in May alleging widespread use of performance-enhancing substances among less talented Kenyan distance runners aiming to excel at international meetings.
Punta Umbria World Cross fourth finisher and Kenya team captain to the event, Matthew Kisorio, then tested positive for EPO before going public with claims that he was one of several distance runners who acquired drugs from clinics in Nairobi, Eldoret and Iten purposely established to supply doping substances.
The federation remained mum on when it would release its widely expected internal investigations into the doping claims highlighted by ARD and Kisorio’s charges.
However, Kiplagat took the opportunity to deliver another stern warning to foreign journalists and coaches coming to the country to interview runners or set camps for them that they risked prosecution if they did not clear with the federation.
“For most of these coaches, agents and journalists who come to this country without permission, I still repeat, we are stamping our feet down. You cannot go to Italy (for instance) and carry your cameras; you will be arrested and put in.
“We also want to tell them that we have rules in the country that when we come here, they have to follow them,” he charged claiming that some of the visitors were conducting illegal research on Kenyan runners.
He reiterated Kenya’s aim at the March 24 World Cross was to replicate the performance of 2010 in the same Polish city where Kenya scooped all individual and team gold medals on offer in a record-breaking performance.
“We are going back to Bydgoszcz and we hope that we should be able to win the eight gold medals again. I want to assure you that we shall run the programme well and professionally.
“The team that will be selected will be selected well to ensure that we go there and win.”
The series has a Sh1.2m ($14,118) jackpot to be shared among the four categories, men senior 12km, women senior 8km, men junior 8km and women junior 6km races with athletes scoring points corresponding with their performances at the individual meets.
Winners of each category at every series meet will earn Sh20,000 ($235) with the prize adjusted to Sh50,000 ($588) during the National Championships.
During the launch, KCB Group CEO, Martin Oduor-Otieno announced they would also be involved in the Kenyan-leg of the IAAF World Cross Permit Series.
“We will be covering the Permit Meet in Nairobi and we have set aside Sh1.4m ($16,471) for this event. We have put in place a robust plan to market this event since our focus remains on giving the youth a platform to exploit their potential,” the CEO added.
The Kenyan team for the second biennial World Cross is scheduled to begin residential training from February 25 to March 18 before leaving for the global event a day later.