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Nowhere to hide for drug cheats, warns Tuwei

Athletics Kenya boss Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei addressing the press at the AK Headquarters on August 27, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – Athletics Kenya chief Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei has warned athletes that they have nowhere to hide in the war against doping, just a few days after another high-profile figure was caught up in the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) cheat-net.

London 2017 champion Daniel Wanjiru became the fourth Kenyan to be suspended this year after anomalies were found on his Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).

“I want to tell the athletes that there is nowhere to hide with the systems put in place. Wherever you go or even if you are retired, the records will always be there and one day, you will be caught,” Tuwei said on Friday afternoon, speaking to NTV Sasa.

Other athletes who have already been suspended by the AIU this year are former marathon World Record holder Wilson Kipsang who was suspended for failure to declare whereabouts, same as Alfred Kipketer.

Kenneth Kiprop has also been suspended because of the presence of terbutaline in his samples.

“We have had this problem of athletes failing to correctly state their whereabouts for testing and WADA are very strict with this. If you say you will be at Point A at this time, you have to be there. If you miss out three times, then a suspension follows because they will think you are hiding something,” Tuwei explained.

Meanwhile, he said Athletics Kenya (AK) is working closely with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya to ensure they continue educating athletes on the dangers of doping and see that Kenya completely weeds out the shameful vice.

“We have talked about this for long and it has brought shame to our country. We have tried our level best to tell our athletes that this is a shameful act. Those drugs have an adverse effect on the health of the athlete. It not only soils the name of the country, but the future of the athlete as well,” Tuwei further explained.

Kenya is setting up plans to criminalize doping and if this goes through, any athlete found guilty of doping will be jailed.

Among some of the high-profile names who have been banned by the AIU include Asbel Kiprop, Jemimah Sumgong and Rita Jeptoo.

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Elsewhere, Tuwei has said AK is in talks with the government to help cushion vulnerable athletes from financial difficulty at this difficult time that sports has been brought to a grinding halt by the novel coronavirus.

Two weeks ago, the government announced a Sh100mn stimulus for artistes from the Sports Fund, leaving sportsmen reeling with anger that they have been left out.

But Tuwei underscored that they are working hand in hand with Cabinet Secretary of Sport Amina Mohammed to look at the most vulnerable athletes who entirely depend on sports for a living.

“The ministry will cushion all sports, not just athletics and we know that this money cannot be enough for everyone. We are looking at the most vulnerable who completely depend on athletics to earn a living,” Tuwei revealed.

“There are some who are employed like at the Kenya Defense Forces, Kenya Police and Kenya Prisons and for them, they are advantaged because at least they have something,” Tuwei added.

Athletes have lost millions in appearance fees, winning bonuses, time bonuses and allowances with so many events being postponed.

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