NAIROBI, February 13- Kenya’s sports minster warned Friday athletes caught doping would be consigned to the “dustbin of history”, in a bid to repair the reputation of the east African country’s fabled distance runners.
The crisis in Kenyan sports follows the disgrace of top marathoner Rita Jeptoo, a two-time Chicago and Boston winner, who was caught using the blood-boosting drug EPO.
“There is no amount of advertisement that can bring glory to Kenya in the way that one gold medal does at the Olympics, or World championships. So are we going to give all of that away because of your greed?” said Minster of Sports Hassan Wario.
“We will never do that. So as a country, as a ministry, we are really agitated by the shame being brought on us by those few people that are doping, that are trying to cheat their way to the podium. You don’t belong there, you belong in the dustbin of history.”
Wario was speaking in Nairobi at a special anti-doping seminar organised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) along with the country’s governing body Athletics Kenya (AK).
Over 35 Kenya athletes have been suspended over the last two years for doping offences.
– ‘Greed’ –
Kenya’s sports bosses have been accused of inaction on the doping issue, which has cast a shadow over the record-breaking and medal-winning achievements of its runners.
They have blamed the current crisis on dishonest foreign agents and managers who are “corrupting” Kenyan runners.
AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat offered a stern warning to agents and managers whose runners had been found to be doping, saying they would be forced to stop their work.
“Kenya’s image has been severely dented by this issue of doping,” Kiplagat told more than 30 foreign and local agents gathered for the one-day seminar.
“If three or four athletes who have been sanctioned under you, you will have to go. We will have nothing to do with you again.”
Top Dutch sports manager Jos Hermens, of Global Sports Communications, said that those who used doping did so from greed.
“I’m 30 years working here and I cannot imagine why you’d start anything with doping in a country like Kenya,” he said.
“There’s always been fantastic athletes, there will always be good athletes. Why?.. Because people are greedy and they want money.”
Kenya have formed a new anti-doping agency to regulate the testing of athletes, in partnership with China and Norwegian agencies and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).