NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29- The national German TV at the centre of blood doping claims against Kenyan runners has responded to criticism of its findings by Athletics Kenya (AK) maintaining their allegations were based on proper investigations.
In a statement sent to newsrooms on Tuesday and signed by Peter Schreiber, ARD German TV Nairobi Bureau Chief, the station added the report that aired on May 19 presented the federation with enough clues to launch a probe to verify the charges.
The airing of the report precipitated a swift and strong reaction from AK led by federation boss, Isaiah Kiplagat alongside the chairman of the country’s National Olympics Committee (NOC), Dr. Kipchoge Keino.
“ARD’s reporters received hints that there might be doping. They investigated according to the rules of fair journalism. And in the course of investigations, they found strong indications that at least some Kenyan athletes break the rules.
“Putting the blame on the messenger carrying the bad news is too easy a way to distract attention from the alarming content itself,” Schreiber said.
While standing by their reporter, Hajo Seppelt who filed the report on the station’s Sport Inside show, ARD pressed that their story bore comments by Gabrielle Dolle, the medical director of world body IAAF who conceded “that Kenya lacks the technical pre-conditions for a systematic and effective testing of athletes’ blood samples. This means there is no way to rule out doping.”
“Furthermore, the report quotes an active trainer of Kenyan athletes stating that less talented athletes in their struggle to keep up recede to illegal substances.
“The trainer advises ARD crew to check a ‘Healthy Shop’ in downtown Nairobi. The shop’s manager, in front of a hidden camera, proudly presents Kenyan athletes as his customers.
“His shop offers pills containing illegal substances and on demand, the manager provides the reporter with high quality EPO (blood doping agent) within a day,” the statement further explained.
Schreiber disclosed that a second medic in Kapsabet alleged that he supplies many national ‘top athletes’ with EPO (Erythropoietin) in addition to revealing how to get around blood tests.
Finally, Danish scientist, Bengt Saltin who was also interviewed in the show in question asserted that between 2008 and 2010 certain blood parameters of Kenyan long distance runners performing in Europe showed a drastic increase that is hard to explain ‘by just better training.’
“The report does not categorically suspect all of Kenya’s long distance runners. And it is certainly not spurred by hatred for Kenyan athletes.
“As Mr. Kiplagat put it, we are all aware of the achievements of Kenyan long distance runners and we respect them as a national pride,” the bureau chief added as he advised the federation boss who denied doping among the country’s athletes when questioned by Sport Inside to use the pointers given on the report to start investigations.
Last Wednesday, Kiplagat tore to the claims saying, “This story depicts Kenya as a country that uses to use drugs to enhance performances. I want to assure that 99 percent of our athletes win cleanly.
“We in AK are not aware of any athlete who has used drugs and those found have been punished according to IAAF rules.”
NOC chief, Keino stated at the time, “I’m shocked by the claims and it should be remembered that we were given a gold medal at the last Olympics due to someone who had used drugs.
“We are preparing a team and we are working with WADA. There are 5000 out of competition training and we have invited them here to test our athletes.”