A human rights group has petitioned the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to lift bans on all athletes sanctioned for doping, basing their demands on “questionable errors” in anti-doping programmes.
They argue this will ensure justice for the affected sportsmen and women.
According to the Africa Alliance for Health, Research and Economic Development (AAHRED), suspensions and bans on athletes due to anti-doping rules violations has become common in Kenya and, generally, East Africa.
“The negative effects of the anti-doping programmes present misery and painful punitive actions specifically to those who deny the charges of doping but are found guilty on evidence of results with discrepancies from both human and equipment technicalities, leave alone the naturally occurring biological conditions beyond their control requiring extensive research,” said Gilbert Kiplom, the sports and human rights officer at AAHRED.
Addressing journalists in Eldoret on Wednesday, the group claimed they had examined the steps that include sample processing, laboratory chain of custody, A-Sample confirmation and analysis process.
These are the most important steps that determine credibility of the doping tests that lead to either positive or negative results and which they say “raised serious doubts.”
“We have cases of so many suppressed voices of athletes affected by the anti-doping control procedures whereby they are articulating to the world how AIU and doping testing institutions control procedures have casted doubts over positive test allegation amounting to infringement of their liberal rights,” said Isaac Kore, a scientist at AAHRED.
“Such suspensions render these athletes jobless and with no livelihood,” said Kore. The organisation is now calling on the government to support the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) and Athletics Kenya (AK) in their anti-doping campaigns. “We call on the government of Kenya to support by funding research on biological factors, environmental doping causative agents for the sake of justice and accountability in sport,” said Justine Kurui, the CEO at AAHRED.
Kurui said by doing so, the country will reduce possible discrepancies and increase public and all stakeholders' confidence in the process of attaining indisputable results for the good of the sport and the country’s image.
“Let it be known that suspension or banning of athletes/ officials causes irreversible damage to human lives if done without justice in due process.
“The errors preceding suspension cannot and must not be neglected as they can portray the highest level of impunity and presumptive outcome that can damage lives and destroy the future of our hardworking athletes,” added Kurui.
AAHRED on Wednesday also took issue with global anti-doping institutions saying they had forced some athletes to take up alternative careers rather than those they were talented in. “Olympic 1,500 metres champion and three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop is a classic example of such frustrations we are talking about.
“Even though we are happy for him that he has switched careers and moved on with life after serving a four-year doping ban imposed in April 2019 after he tested positive for EPO, we believe it is not his wish to go to motorsport. Such are the frustrations that our good athletes are going through,” said Kiplom.
Speaking at the same time, distance running star Mercy Kibarus, whose woes commenced in earnest five years ago, moments after she came second at the First Lady’s Half Marathon held in Nairobi in March 2015, maintained her innocence calling on the anti-doping institutions to re-look into her issue.
“All I can say is that I want my issue to be addressed as soon as possible because the results that came out had a lot of errors. I would wish to go back to athletics because I have nowhere else to go to. My whole life revolves around athletics,” said Kibarus maintaining she has never taken any drugs to help her run faster. She indicated that she has severally proved her innocence but the anti-doping bodies have continuously refused to clear her subjecting her to further suffering and frustrations.