NAIROBI, Kenya, October 22- National rugby sevens head coach Paul Treu has called on transparency in the Government-sponsored Anti-Doping Agency report that accused him and his staff of introducing supplements by the trade name ‘Evox’ that purportedly contained steroids upon laboratory analysis.
In a statement sent from South Africa on his behalf by Glenda Neville, Treu said allegations that the Kenya sevens coaching staff he leads were involved in doping players and assertions made about them using banned supplements yet none had tested positive were baseless.
He further denies introducing harmful nutritional additions noting he was actually responsible introducing a ‘no-supplement policy’ when he arrived in Kenya to take over coaching the Sevens team in November 2013.
“When I arrived, players were taking supplements. We decided – as we’d done in South Africa – to not endorse or advocate taking supplements of any kind, preferring to focus on proper nutrition,” Treu said.
The Task Force, led by Professor Moni Wekesa, completed its initial report in April this year but it was formally released by Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture, Dr. Hassan Wario last Friday.
Treu, who is in Cape Town, says there has been a lack of transparency around the report, which he has not even seen, questioning the credentials of the investigators who are not recognised by the International Rugby Board (IRB) as an anti-doping agency.
“We know the risk of supplements as we know how easily they can cause athletes to fail tests,” Treu says. “During my time with South African rugby, we had a strict supplement policy, developed in conjunction with scientists and dieticians, specifically for this reason.
“That’s why from the very beginning, when we came into the Kenyan Sevens set up, we tried to get rid of supplements. It was one of the first actions we took on arrival in Kenya. We wanted to substitute supplements with food and rather use only a certified product that was guaranteed not to be contaminated (FUTURELIFE). The use of supplements is definitely not part of our game plan,” he insisted.
Dr. Ross Tucker the statement added; is a globally respected sports scientist and outspoken critic of doping. He has consulted and advised Treu on scientific and strategic matters since 2007.
“The supplement industry is not well enough controlled to have absolute faith in it. And besides, there’s little evidence that they really work, provided diet is optimised. The only responsible approach is remove all supplements, and then specifically seek out certified supplements and food products, which is exactly what we did at the outset,” Tucker added.
Treu and Tucker believe there is an opportunity to educate sporting bodies, athletes and coaching staff in Kenya on supplements and the value of sports nutrition in preparing players physically.
“My strategic focus in training is to apply the South African approach where we condition players using the science of nutrition,” Treu advised.
“We need to bring in experts in this complex field to show them how it’s done, properly. We need to know what substances are banned, and which are legal. How they are contaminated. How to condition players using the science of nutrition.”
The supplement at the heart of the controversy, Evox, was brought in by the Kenyan Rugby Union a year ago, before Treu started as the Sevens coach the statement claimed.
They handed over the supplement to the government investigators at the end of 2013. The players themselves weren’t tested.
Treu said he and his coaching staff were not interviewed nor requested to provide answers to queries.
They would welcome an independent investigation, are happy to answer any questions and would provide any evidence or material requested by such a body. This includes financial records of purchases, communication with companies involved, and player training data.
“I believe in transparency so urge the task team to release the full report and the laboratory tests done on the supplement. It is incumbent on them to make public the names of the drugs, the amounts they found in the product, their benefits, if any, and their side effects so the sports industry is made fully aware of all the issues involved,” he says.
Treu says no one has had eyes on the report and that a ‘normal’ process would be to alert the Union to claims that a product might be contaminated, conduct the study, and then tell them results.
“The comments by Professor Wekesa were highly defamatory and we, as the Kenya Sevens management, reserve all our rights,” noted.
-Picture sourced from Arigi Photos