Kenya risks WADA rap over slow dope action

ATHLETE-LEGSNAIROBI, Kenya, July 24- Uncertainty hangs over Kenya’s ability to meet the November deadline to submit a comprehensive report on level of scrutiny of its athletes to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) fast approaching.

Athletics Kenya (AK) president Isaiah Kiplagat let the cat out of the bag when he said, the government and National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) must submit a report requested by WADA on what they are doing to address doping in the country and how rampant the vice is.

“AK has received a report from WADA that the country risk being blacklisted if the report on doping will not be out by November,” said Kiplagat.

He added: “Time is running out. I have raised this issue with the government, NOCK and other stakeholders. But little is being done. We do not want to be black listed come November as one of the countries that are not fully cooperating with WADA.

“In November WADA will have a congress meeting in South Africa and they expect us to have submitted our report on what we are doing, punishment handed out and our surveillance levels.”

WADA has asked Kenya government to open up a blood centre in Nairobi and Eldoret to serve the East Africa region, where athletes samples will be brought in and tested for any Performance enhance drugs, and any other stimulants that are banned.

“We need a blood centre, where athletes samples will be kept for over six months and be tested to see any changes in hemoglobin. If it changes drastically between two samples then we are able to say such an athlete is not clean or using unwanted substances,” said Kiplagat.

“That is why it is important for the government and NOCK to appoint a committee urgently to look into this issue and do as WADA recommended.”

The anti-doping centre in Eldoret and a blood centre in Nairobi will be at the granary of distance running in the East African nation and also at strategic location to serve Ethiopia, Uganda, Eritrea and Tanzania.

World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey visited Kenya last year. His tour was meant to increase the agency’s scrutiny level of activities in Kenya, putting sports cheats in the country on notice. Fahey said Kenya was an important nation in the world of sports and thus there was a need to increase its anti-doping programmes.

“We want to make sure that Kenya is operating effectively and therefore must have a robust and comprehensive doping programme,” Fahey said, “We want to increase the activity in anti-doping,” he said.

With almost a 80 percent domination of road races in the world, Kenyans are the most tested athletes globally both in and out of competition.

For some time, there was no cheats found in Kenya at major championships, but the pressure from the managers to win more money, or the desire by the athletes to push their bodies beyond their limit has seen the vice creep in at an alarming rate.

That explains why for almost two decades only five Kenyan athletes were found guilty of doping, all for their own ignorance.

But in the last one year alone, the trend has picked up sharply to force both the Kenyan government and WADA to raise a red flag. Now Kenya is under spotlight and like other countries, especially USA, believed to have many cheats in their camps.

WADA has labelled Kenya as one of its global doping hot spots and a “location of choice” for would-be dopers, not just Kenyans but athletes from other countries who come to use local facilities and training camps.

WADA recently revoked testing accreditation for a laboratory in Tunis, meaning that Johannesburg hosts the only lab in Africa where samples can currently be processed.

Kiplagat said taking samples to South Africa is costly and a centre in Eldoret or Nairobi will help limit the vice.

Of recent, athletes who have been found guilty include Rose Chesire banned for failing drug test.

In 2008, AK banned sprinter Elizabeth Muthoka after she had taken a cocktail of drugs to cure her low haemoglobin (red blood cells) count but they contained the banned substance Nandrolone.

Other Kenyans who have been banned before for doping and served their term include road racer, Pamela Chepchumba, Lydia Cheromei (Clomiphene) in 2006 and Susan Chepkemei (Salbutamol) 2007.

Those still serving their two-year ban include Moses Kurgat, Cosmas Kyeva, Neriah Nyaboke Asiba, Ronald Rutto, Anthony Wairuri, Salome Jerono Biwott and Jynocel Basweti Onyancha.

Others are Wilson Erupe Loyanae, Nixon Kiplagat Cherutich, Moses Kiptoo Kurgat, Genoveva Kigen, Nahashon Kimaiyo, Matthews Kisorio and Rael Kiyara.

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