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Athletics Kenya: ARD dope report is libel

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 The new doping allegations say that leaked results from 12,000 blood tests on 5,000 competitors by the IAAF shows the wide extent of cheating in athletics. PHOTO/AFP

The new doping allegations say that leaked results from 12,000 blood tests on 5,000 competitors by the IAAF shows the wide extent of cheating in athletics. PHOTO/AFP

NAIROBI, August 2- “The timing of the libellous report contained in almost half of the 55 minute documentary which alleges widespread systematic doping in Kenya is extremely suspect and ill motivated, coming on the day we selected our team for the IAAF World Championships.”

That is Athletics Kenya (AK)’s take on the serious doping allegations levelled the country’s runners by German TV, ARD bombshell “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics” documentary aired Saturday evening.

“The documentary not only makes serious and sweeping allegations on doping but also makes serious allegations on the integrity of our current and former leaders, including our sponsor without giving them an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

“The documentary is made largely based on private and confidential data as well as forged documents ostensibly from AK which are now a subject of investigations by the relevant authorities,” it hit back.

The national governing body threatened legal action against ARD and Seppelt after part of it also accused AK’s serving and former top brass of withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars to enrich themselves from money sent by American apparel giant, Nike for their kitting deal.

British publication Sunday Times published the report after partnering with investigative reporter, Hajo Seppelt who prepared the expose based on data on blood reports of thousands of athletes leaked from world body, IAAF.

“On claims of financial impropriety on our top leadership, past and present, we have instructed our legal team to study the documentary with a view of bringing legal action against the TV Station and the author.”

AK however, noted with concern undercover footage showing runners in Eldoret receiving injections alleged to be blood booster EPO in various clinics where Seppelt visited passing himself off as a manager who wanted his athletes to win big races.

“The Federation always welcomes any information which would help fight the vice of doping. But we cannot fail to point out that the documentary is an attempt to smear our runners with unwarranted suspicion as they prepare to undertake duty for their country in Beijing, China.

“The unwarranted claims on the Kenyan athletes are deliberately aimed at derailing the preparations and the participation of the Kenyan team in the World Championships.

“We stand firm in declaring that our team will continue its preparations despite these attacks which are perpetuated by the same reporter Hajo Seppelt who had made similar allegations three years ago,” it asserted.

“Our teams Youth, Junior and Senior teams have continued to perform well in the World stage despite the allegations that Hajo Seppelt has levelled against us.

“In fact it is important to indicate that the author of the documentary has not contacted Athletics Kenya for any clarifications as claimed on the documentary,” the federation claimed.

It pointed out it in the past two years, “We have devoted a lot of time and resources to combat the vice with the assistance of IAAF, the World Anti-Doping Agency, Kenyan Government and international partners such as China and Norway.

“In our continued fight against doping we have sanctioned a number of athletes found to be in violation and the information is in the public arena. This is besides ordering all our sanctioned events, not only at national but also regional (grassroots) level to have doping control as mandatory requirement.”

In the past week they underscored, the Government through Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture, Dr. Hassan Wario announced that the IAAF assisted testing lab will soon be set up in Nairobi to step up the fight against the vice.

“Athletics Kenya is also in the process of concluding investigations in conjunction with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ministry of Health through the Pharmacy and Poisons Board into suppliers, users and any other persons involved in the sale, distribution and administering of prohibited substances.”

-IAAF’s take-

The International Association of Athletics Federations says it will not rule out “any follow-up action necessary” over a Sunday Times report alleging widespread doping in the sport.

 

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