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AK: Jeptoo sorely responsible for EPO bust

JEPTOO- CHICAGONAIROBI, Kenya, February 5 – Athletics Kenya (AK) came out strongly on Thursday to defend themselves on accusations they are squarely to blame for rising doping cases in the country.

A section of retired and active runners led by two past Olympics champions, Wilfred Bungei and John Ngugi, put the federation to task over handling of recent drug busts that peaked at 32 in the past year with the high profile case of female marathon star Rita Jeptoo seen as yet another example of conspiracy to cover up for the real culprits of the menace.

Despite AK slapping Jeptoo with a two-year ban, the runners demanded persons behind supply of banned blood booster EPO the three-time Boston and two-time Chicago marathons winner tested positive for must face charges, but federation CEO Isaac Mwangi announced they do not have evidence to hold any one apart from the athlete accountable.

“People are asking why AK has not sanctioned managers and the answer is simple there is no evidence linking them (with doping). The rules are very clear that it’s the responsibility of athletes to ensure whatever enters into their body is clean but it’s never the responsibility of the handlers,” the CEO declared at an AK’s stakeholder’s forum in Nairobi.

“IAAF has granted us powers to do in and out of competitions tests which are a mandatory in each of our races. We have a functional Medical and Anti-Doping Commission that is run by competent people; so those who are saying we don’t take our samples (for testing) to South Africa should get their facts right,” Mwangi added.

Cabinet Secretary for Sports Dr. Hassan Wario, also pointed a finger at AK blaming them on the increase of doping cases and went ahead to warn foreign managers and coaches who operate in the country illegally they would be ejected by Government.

“Our patience in 2015 is overdue and we are going to sort you out. Time to act is now and if AK can’t act we will throw them out and get someone else to do the job. We should not allow people to come in the country in the name of coaches and agents yet they are the one responsible in some of the doping cases,” Wario said at the 11th Sports Personality of the Year Awards gala fete last month.

 National XC boycott threat

At the same, AK has urged runners to ignore calls by the same group of athletes to boycott the February 14 National Cross Country Championships cum IAAF World Cross Country Championships Trials dismissing the threat as hot air.

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“I urge all athletes to take the Nationals seriously because it’s part of preparations for the (summer) World Championships in Beijing. Those people calling for boycott are testing waters because there is no athletes who will boycott a national event since they know it will used to rank them in the world,” AK vice-president in charge of competitions and administration, David Okeyo held.

Kenya’s team for next month’s Guiyang World Cross in China will be selected following the event planned for Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens.

Okeyo distanced the federation from claims of financial impropriety following allegations part of prize monies accruing from last year’s IAAF World Relay Championships in Bahamas had been unduly deducted from the final payout to athletes without consent.

“We have not denied athletes their money, in-fact we are protecting them because our policy is that we cannot pay the athletes until the Anti-doping results are out because if they are paid before and the result is positive, then they will be asked to return the money,” the administrator charged.

Kenya won three gold medals (4 x 1500m, men and women and 4 x 800m men), a silver (4x800m women), the men 4x200m was fourth and the men 4x400m was seventh bringing the total to USD198,000 in addition to world record bonuses for the 4X1500m worth USD100,000 meaning the Kenyan squad won USD298,000 (Sh27,236,902).

According to their own figures published in a local daily, the federation falls USD25,000 (Sh2,284,975) short of accounting for the total in an issue that put them on a collision path with the Professional Athletes’ Association of Kenya that joined the group of aggrieved athletes in pressing AK for full disclosure of how the Bahamas prize money was distributed.

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