NAIROBI, Kenya, February 18- Are Kenyan distance runners on dope? That is a question that refuses to go away since last May when German TV station, ARD aired explosive claims against the country’s athletes.
Only last week, retired three-time World steeplechase champion, Moses Kiptanui, claimed his compatriots were engaged in the rampant use of proscribed substances to excel.
“They want to get money by all means, either by a genuine way or another way. We have put rules in place. If we don’t use these rules then athletes will still use these drugs.”
Kiptanui also alleges widespread corruption around the world. “If you can bribe somebody today or tomorrow, then [a test result] is gone,” Kiptanui told the BBC in an interview.
However, his contemporary and retired world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat, refuted the claims saying that each case should be treated individually as opposed to generalising the problem.
“It is wrong to say that all athletes are using or being introduced to take drugs. Those are misplaced comments that are bringing disharmony among our runners and the country at large.
“I do not believe that is the case (widespread use), personally I never come across anyone using them but that is not to say that it does not happen. We should treat every case as it comes,” the two-time Olympics silver medallist charged.
Speaking on the sidelines of the KCB/AK National Cross Country Championships, Tergat called for better education on substance abuse from authorities to stem the problem.
“Some of these young kids go and buy banned substances over the counter or they are cheated to start using them. I believe this are isolated cases and if anybody is found, they should be dealt with individually since it is criminal,” the five-time World Cross gold medallist added.
“Majority of our sportsmen may not know that some of these drugs they use are banned. Compared to other countries, our record is good and we should stop generalising this matter.
“Proper investigations should be made before making any claims and the authorities to be involved so that they can be dealt with decisively,” Tergat added
A Government commission to look into the establishments allegedly supplying the substances and investigate suspected cases has been set up with the outcome of dope test conducted by the World Anti Doping Agency in December are awaited.
World governing body, IAAF, also gathered samples from 32 elite runners to create a biological blood profile bank for future use.
Matthew Kisorio, the captain of the national team for the Punta Umbria World Cross in 2011 admitted to doping in the hope of having his ban reduced.
“I didn’t run up to my standard during this year’s Boston marathon,” Kisorio told German TV channel ARD.
“To get my power of endurance up, he (a doctor) told me they will take care of it. I asked if this is considered doping. He said: ‘No problem. The substance stays only three to four days in your blood circulation and then it is impossible to prove. I went with it, because everyone told me, I wasn’t the only one – and none of the others got caught for doping.
“I know that a lot of medical substances are used, which are injected straight to the blood for the body to have more oxygen. And when you run, you run so smooth. You have more stamina. When the prize money comes in the doctors want a piece of your success,” he added while allegedly providing a list of other runners and establishments involved in doping.
The list is yet to be made public.