NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie has pledged to work with Kenya to fight doping, outlining that the menace has tainted the glory of the two East African nations.
Kenya is under the watch list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after failing to comply with the code last year and Haile has urged the government of Kenya to criminalise doping as they have done it in Ethiopia.
Haile, who is the Ethiopia Athletics Federation Chairman, urged Kenya to take tough measures to athletes who are found using banned substances and protect the innocent.
“There is no shortcut. Kenya and Ethiopia have to fight doping because if we ignore it, at the end of the day the loser will be Kenya and Ethiopia. We don’t have a chance to get those medicines, its foreigners who bring them to destroy our sport,” Haile disclosed.
“I ask all sports people and the Kenyan government let us work together and fight for our innocent athletes. My government (Ethiopia) they have criminalised doping and one will serve up to five years in prison which is very important. I wish the Kenyan government do the same. It’s not about winning medals but it’s about protecting the next generation.”
His sentiments were echoed by Kenyan legend Paul Tergat who has been in the forefront fighting doping after the menace hit the country hard in the last three years.
However, 8000m world record holder David Rudisha disagreed with Haile outlining that some of the drugs are administered to athletes without their knowledge.“
“Well, I don’t agree entirely with Haile because most of these athletes usually do not dope knowingly. Of course there are those who take performance enhancing drugs in full knowledge but there are those athletes who take pills for medicinal purposes without knowing they might contain banned substances,” Rudisha told Capital Sport
“It’s tricky because the standard ban should be around four years though it differs between federations. But banning an athlete entirely without looking at the background would be unfair. If it is found the athlete doped knowingly, then it is another case. But it should not be a blanket rule.”
Athletics Kenya has identified five doctors who will form a network of accredited medical personnel to attend to athletes in the country as a measure of curbing doping.
Meanwhile, Haile who was in the country attending the 2016 Sports Personality of the Year Awards hailed the gala that was founded by his longtime friend Tergat and promised to emulate the same in Ethiopia.
“I’m honored to be here with you this evening which is very important for Kenyan sport recognizing our heroes and heroines as an important tradition in sports. I would like to uphold Kenyans for this and I want to thank my good friend Tergat for taking the lead to make this a reality, we Ethiopians don’t do so we should learn this lesson.”
“I have been busy with my new position at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, you know the difference between being a president and an athlete; one is competing and the other is watching. I miss competing with you guys (Kenya) don’t worry I’m working very hard to prepare someone to compete with you,” he said.