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Bhang smoking rife in KPL

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GANJA-SMOKERNAIROBI, Kenya, May 9- It has emerged Kenyan footballers and their coaches smoke bhang in mistaken belief it enhances performances while local rugby is also affected by substance abuse.

For long, doping has been almost solely associated with athletics but Probe Committee inquest to the vice under the chairmanship of Prof. Moni Wekesa, has asked the Government to stem the vice.

“After the three months work across the country, we found out that rugby players have been using food supplements laced with banned substances. It is normal in their practice,” he said.

“We talked to a number of footballers and were shocked that most of them take bhang (Cannabis Sativa). It is not just the players but coaches as well. There are no strong structures and information to address the vice. It is why we have no tests carried out on these players and they easily get away with it,” he said.

Sports Minister Hassan Wario appointed the committee in November to carry out investigation after World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said the vice is widespread in Kenya.

“We will implement the report as soon as possible. I want there to be broader awareness in sports circles. Reports that our athletes were using drugs were beginning to paint the country negatively. This will help us deal with this matter,” he said.

Wada officials came to Kenya to try to speed up investigations into doping. They met Hassan Wario, and the members of a 12-member special taskforce that was appointed by the government to investigate allegations of widespread doping among Kenyan athletes.

The taskforce submitted their report to the government on Thursday. Wekesa also revealed that the committee widened their scope to focus on football and rugby together with athletics so as to get to the bottom of the problem.

Only one Kenyan footballer Philip Opiyo has been banned for taking bhang. This was in 2006 when he was playing in South Africa.

The committee said Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) officials admitted to giving national team players food supplements laced with banned substances.

Kenya Sevens team is currently in London for the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Series this weekend.

“KRU officials were co-operative and agreed to stop it. They even handed over the supplements and we plan to destroy the same,” said Wekesa.

The task force however, found leniency with track and field, the country’s golden goose in international championships.

“Track and field athletes caught in the vice did not do it deliberately. Some were sick and took medicine, which ended up being laced with banned substance. However, there are some who did it deliberately,” said Wekesa. Since 2009, Kenya has had 32 athletes banned.

Back in 2004, Kenya’s David Munyasia, a boxer, was the first athlete to be found in violation of International Olympic Committee anti-doping rules at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

The IOC announced that Munyasia, a bantamweight, had tested positive for cathine on Aug. 6.

Four times the allowed limit of 5 micrograms per millilitre was found to be present in Munyasia’s urine. He was immediately barred from participating in the Games.

Munyasia confessed he was regular user of Miraa (khat), a popular stimulant in Kenya.

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