Veteran athletics coach and manager Gabriele Rosa and his Rosa Associati stable have introduced blood tests among their athletes and urged Athletics Kenya not to relent in their war against doping.
The move comes as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Tuesday announced sanctions for eight Kenyan athletes found guilty of various doping violations.
Of the eight athletes, most of them marathon runners, Alice Ndirangu received the harshest sentence of a four-year ban after testing positive at the 2012 Maraton Gobernador 47 in Mexico.
The others are Emily Perpetua Chepkorir (two years’ ban), Stephen Kibet Tanui (two years), Philip Kandie (two years), Julius Kiprono Mutai (two years) James Maunga Nyankabaria (two years), Flomena Jebet Chepchirchir (six months) and Elizabeth Chelagat (two years).
The IAAF also handed an eight-year ban to India’s Sethi Kethi, the most severe sentence so far, after Kethi tested positive at the Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championships in Patiala, India, in August last year.
Rosa and his stable’s lead coach Claudio Berardelli confirmed that machine, worth Sh1 million, that they would use for the blood tests had arrived in Kenya and was on Monday being cleared at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s customs department.
Rosa said he was happy with Athletics Kenya’s fight against doping but said the federation must be more aggressive in their campaign to clear Kenya’s name in the face of recent stinging attacks following doping revelations in the country’s flagship sport.
Rosa Associati has been in the headlines recently following the positive EPO test by one of its top athletes, Chicago and Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo.
Their management team, led by Federico Rosa and coach Berardelli, were a fortnight ago summoned to a hearing by Athletics Kenya along with Jeptoo and her estranged husband Noah Busienei but the jury is still out with the verdict on Jeptoo’s sentence eagerly awaited.
Rosa Associati have since distanced themselves from Jeptoo saying she has not been open and honest with them regarding the positive test for the banned performance enhancer Erythropoeitin.
But Rosa said the fact that a high-profile case of doping had come up in Kenya would help highlight the gravity of the problem.
“I’m sorry and also happy that Rita Jeptoo was found guilty because she is a top athlete, and everybody in the world and the international media have been talking about her. Because of this others will now know the problem of getting involved in doping,” said Rosa.
“I like Kenya a lot and will help Kenya to fight and clear its name. I’m sorry about Rita because she is a top athlete and she has the ability to win even without using drugs.”
'READY TO FIGHT'
The Rosa Associati stable manages the largest number of Kenyan elite athletes and Rosa strongly defended his athletes saying they were clean champions.
Last Sunday, Rosa Associati hosted a dinner in Eldoret for their athletes and other guests following Sunday’s 24th Discovery Kenya Cross Country Championships at the Eldoret Sports Club with the silver-haired “Doctor Rosa” heaping praise on his stable that continues to produce world-beating stars.
“We are ready to fight, we are ready to support Kenya. It is true the (doping) situation is not good and some foreign people may not be doing the right thing for Kenyan athletes. It’s time Kenya does something so that these young men and women can go out there and proudly compete.
“We cannot agree with some noises going around and trying to spoil our name,” said Rosa who has been associated with athletics coaching for almost 50 years, nurturing the likes of multiple big city marathon champions Moses Tanui, Paul Tergat, Martin Lel and Robert Cheruiyot, among others.
“Kenya is famous for its tourism and tea but the athletes give it a bigger name. They are very rich and make a lot of money which is useful for the Kenyan economy. I like Kenya and it’s my second home,” the legendary 73-year-old coach said.
“I’ve been working in athletics for 48 years and there has never been a problem. I don’t like it now that someone is trying to spoil our name… we are the top team in the world… everybody should trust us,” Rosa said.
Among the athletes at the Sunday dinner were current and former World and Olympic champions and big city marathon title holders including Asbel Kiprop (1,500 metres), Prisca Jeptoo, Jemima Sumgong (marathon), Eunice Sum, Janeth Jepkosgei (800 metres), James Kwambai (marathon), Job Kinyor, Alfred Kirwa Yego (800m), Nancy Jebet Lagat (1,500m) and Stanley Biwott (marathon).
Rosa said to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Discovery Kenya series, his organisation would host a week-long party in between next year’s Discovery Kenya Cross Country Championships and Discovery Kenya Half Marathon.
Following last weekend’s cross country, Rosa Associati will this Sunday host the Discovery Kenya Half Marathon in Eldoret town.
Rosa Associati has put up several training camps in Kenya with the flagship camp being at Kaptagat.