The rate at which elite athletes, especially from Kenya, are getting suspended or banned for doping offences by the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF’s) Athletes Integrity Unit (AIU) is worrying.
This is happening despite the heightened efforts by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and Athletics Kenya to educate and sensitise the sporting fraternity on the dangers of doping through seminars and regular testing, among other methods.
This week, the 2016 Rio Olympics women’s marathon silver medallist, Kenyan-born Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain, was suspended by AIU for testing positive for banned Erythropoietin (EPO).
Kirwa is coached by her husband Joshua Kiprugut Kemei, who also handles World Half Marathon record-holder Abraham Kiptum, who was kicked out of the London Marathon in April after he was caught to have doped.
That came only weeks after 2017 Tokyo Marathon champion Sarah Chepchirchir and 5,000m runner Cyrus Rutto were all suspended for doping offices and hence joining a long list of Kenyans suspended, including former three-time World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop and marathoner Lucy Kabuu.
There are fears that with IAAF now focusing on the Athletics Biological Passport that will date back several years, more doping cheats will be netted. That should be good news for clean athletes.
We commend Athletics Kenya for moving fast to stop any convicted dopers from representing the country. But the federation should do more by helping the government to nab people involved in doping syndicates. However, the anti-doping laws enacted in 2016 must be activated to deal with these dopers. Many are serving bans but are yet to be fined or jailed.