NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27 – In the wake of Kenyan athletes continuously being webbed by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) with several suspensions based on doping violations, Athletics Kenya has reiterated that it is taking the fight on doping seriously.
This year alone, four Kenyan athletes have already been slapped with provisional suspensions by the AIU pending investigations by the IAAF raising concern over the credibility of the country’s athletes.
Four-time 1500m World Champion Asbel Kiprop (who has continuously professed innocence) was the first to be hit by the AIU flame after earning a provisional suspension after his samples returned a positive test for blood boosting EPO.
Distance runner Samuel Kalalei has also been charged over the use of EPO while fellow marathoner Lucy Kabuu has also been charged after her samples returned a positive test for Morphine.
The latest in the list of Kenyan athletes to be hit with AIU charges is World Under-20 Champion and 2017 London World 800m bronze medalist Kipyegon Bett who has been slapped with two cases, the first being refusal to submit a sample while the second was an allegation of a positive test for EPO.
“We have had a number of high profile cases and they seem to be continuing. However, we want to say that as a country we are doing our best to show it is a thing of the past. Those who want to engage in doping will suffer the consequences seriously,” Athletics Kenya(AK) boss Lt Gen. (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei said in a terse statement on Monday afternoon.
He added; “We are working very closely with AIU and ADAK. Those who want to cheat should start counting their days. We believe there is no shortcut to success and we are determined to protect the clean athletes and this means we will be ruthless with the few cheats.”
Tuwei went on to state the Association’s steps in combating the growing vice even with sources intimating that the AIU web might nab more big names in the coming weeks.
He noted the establishment of a six-man Doctor’s network team which was put up to oversee all elite athletes in the country while last week, AK announced they will be setting up a Multi-Agency Andi-Doping Governance Committee to help in combating the vice.
Even as AK vow over the roofs that they are committed to fighting doping, they welcomed news that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had approved the establishment of an Athlete Biological Passport blood analysis center in Nairobi.
The LANCET group of labs is scheduled to begin operations in September and is expected to analyse between 800 and 1000 blood samples a year as part of the AIU doping control programme in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Eritrea.
“This is the best news we have received as AK and we are very excited about this. It supports our program on fighting doping. It means everything will be easier and the facility will help us fight this menace more effectively. We will no longer need to go outside the country for tests,” said Tuwei.
Though the lab funded by AIA and the International Athletics Foundation will only be restricted to blood testing, Tuwei is optimistic that it’s jurisdiction will be expanded as time goes to allow it perform more tests.
The establishment of the lab in Nairobi is seen as a bold move by WADA to screen more East African athletes especially Kenyans and Ethiopia who are in the IAAF Category A athletes.
Meanwhile, the Anti Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) has also welcomed the news of the establishment of a regional lab in Nairobi.
“ADAK’s mandate of safeguarding the integrity of the Kenyan sport has received a great boost from this development. It has reinforced our position on the role of stakeholders in the fight against doping.
“I wish to commend the Government, through the Ministry of Sports, the World Anti-Doping Agency, Athletics Integrity Unit, LANCET Group of Laboratories and all other players who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the country hosts such a facility,” ADAK boss Japhter Rugut said.