LONDON, April 21- Kenyan marathoners Wilson Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge have launched an impassioned defence of Kenya’s doping record, insisting it is unfair to tar all athletes from the country with the same brush.
Kenya has come under increasing international scrutiny especially after twice missing a World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) deadline to pass a law criminalizing doping, but the pressure eased Tuesday when Kenya’s National Assembly passed the Anti-Doping Bill.
Kipsang and Kipchoge were bombarded with questions on Kenya’s doping menace from a battery of journalists ahead of the Virgin London Marathon scheduled for this Sunday.
“Sport is not special, it’s just like life,” said Kipsang, the former marathon world record holder and Professional Athletes’ Association (PAK) of Kenya chairperson.
“You find that in society there are one or two criminals, but it doesn’t mean the whole society are criminals. It doesn’t mean all athletes or the whole sport is cheating. All these guys, we have been tested like seven or eight times, in and out of competition, and we should trust the results,”
“Once the results come through and these guys are clean then the whole world should know they are clean. We, as the athletes, want to send out the message to the whole world, ‘Please let us not try to sum up and say all Kenyan athletes are cheating’. No. We are clean.”
Kipchoge who will be attempting to become the first man to retain his London Marathon crown in almost a decade was adamant that the creation of a new national anti-doping agency in Kenya removes any threat of a suspension for the Olympics.
“For Kenya to be banned is out of the question. Once the President signs it, it’s the law. That is what WADA was waiting for, so we are safe. I can ensure the general public that we are clean. The reason we run is for the love of the sport. I invite you guys to Kenya. Come to our training camps, see our sessions, you will see that people are working hard.” Kipchoge said in response to a question from one of the journalists.
Kenya’s National Assembly passed the law on Tuesday and it was then transmitted to the Senate for debate and approval. If the Upper House does not make any amendments to the Bill, it will be sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta for assent.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Sports, Arts and Culture Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario said that the work was not over despite the National Assembly passing the bill.
“It is fantastic that we are now compliant with WADA. What gave us the confidence is that we were constantly talking to WADA and IAAF and telling them of how far we have gone and they believed us because we have made so much progress in very little time,” Wario said.
“Having passed the bill, the work does not stop there. We have to educate our athletes against using medicines banned. We have to also work to find the sellers of these medicines. There is so much to be done but the hardest part is done,” he added.
As part of the World Marathon Majors, a collection of the six leading races, the London Marathon contributes to the world’s biggest privately funded anti-doping programme, which was established last July.
Any male running under two hours and 10 minutes or female under two hours and 27 minutes must now submit to six random out-of-competition blood tests in addition to anti-doping regimes run by governing bodies.
“There is an absolute desire to have a clean sport. That comes from our athletes and we are determined the winners of our events should be clean.” said London Marathon director Hugh Brasher.
An interesting field is expected for this year’s marathon with 2012 and 2014 champion Kipsang seeking to wrestle back the title from compatriot Eliud Kipchoge who won it last year. Also in the field is Dennis Kimetto who picked bronze last year as well as Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele who has the fifth best time of 2:05:04 in the elite field.
– Additional report from the Telegraph