NAIROBI, Kenya, July 23 – Steeplechase great Ezekiel Kemboi has added his voice to whether Russia’s athletes should be banned from the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games over state-sponsored doping.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Kemboi, the reigning Olympic and world champion said athletes who are found to have doped should carry their own cross.
“I think banning Russia as a country from the Olympics is not good. Every country has cheaters. If one person is caught as an individual they should carry their own cross not a country as a whole,” Kemboi stated.
His stance differs from those of fellow athletes and indeed the opinion of most in the athletics world who feel Russia should be entirely banned from the games.
British long distance athlete Mo Farah on Friday supported the decision to ban Russia, with Jamaican 100m world record holder Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis-Hills of Great Britain also in support.
“We (in Great Britain) have tight rules and I just wished other countries applied them. Usain and I and the rest of us, we work so hard and then something happens and it takes away our limelight. Nobody wants to see it, but we have to do what is right. All I want to be able to do is run against clean athletes fairly. There’s no point having one rule for one country and another for another country.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) last week Thursday threw out an appeal by Russia against a doping ban for its entire athletics team from the Rio Olympics.
The decision increases the possibility that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will now exclude Russia from all sports, not just track and field, in Rio de Janeiro.
Kenya had also been on the spotlight and Kemboi disclosed the athletes have been taken through rigorous doping tests all through their Olympic training camp in Iten.
However, the experienced steeplechaser who sees Rio as his final Olympics before he switches to marathon said the increased attention has not deterred their spirit and morale heading to the South American country.
“We as sportsmen we are okay. Personally I have never and will never use drugs. They should do more tests on every athlete from Kenya to remove any doubt. We have a clean team. I support them so that everyone will be clean and we show the world we are clean,” the 34-year old Presidential escort unit police officer said.
The National Olympic Committee of Kenya expects to receive results on tests conducted on Team Kenya athletes next week before they depart for Rio.
The ban on Russia’s track-and-field team going to Rio was imposed last November by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after an independent report uncovered rampant state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.
It was maintained in June after the IAAF Council ruled that not enough progress had been made in transforming Russia’s anti-doping program.
Russia had argued it had taken steps to clean up the sport, and that the blanket ban was unfair to individual athletes with no record of doping.
The IOC is expected to reach a final decision on Sunday.