alexa Kenya’s squeaky clean image is under scrutiny as cheats pop up - Daily Nation

Kenya’s squeaky clean image is under scrutiny as cheats pop up

Monday February 25 2013

 Kenyan sprinter Elizabeth Muthoka in a past event in Nairobi. She was disqualified from the 2008 team to the Beijing Olympics after she failed a doping test.

Kenyan sprinter Elizabeth Muthoka in a past event in Nairobi. She was disqualified from the 2008 team to the Beijing Olympics after she failed a doping test. NATION

By DAVID MACHARIA [email protected]

Without proof, and in this case testing positive, the crescendo of allegations that there is widespread doping amongst Kenyan athletes can only be treated us that: Allegations.

Most notably was a German journalist who claimed that doping was rife among elite Kenya runners.

Then last week, renowned middle distance runner and former world champion Moses Kiptanui claimed that the practice was commonplace.

However, the reaction of Athletics Kenya has been to first, deny the allegations, and then, almost as an afterthought, to demand for evidence. Without evidence whispers will continue to do the rounds and, intermittently, Kenyan runners will get busted.

Just last week, Athletics Kenya banned three runners for failing drug tests. Marathoners Wilson Loyanae and Nixon Cherutich were each banned for two years and Moses Kurgat for one year.

The suspension of the three is the highest number of local runners ever to be found guilty of doping offences in one instance. But have we heard the last of the doping cases? No.

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Failed a test

A Nyahururu runner is already in trouble after he failed a test. He said a clinical officer gave him a prescription of drug “to help his injury heal fast”. The drug turned out to be “booster” meant for people seeking help to get babies.

With the sporting world acutely attentive to doping following the Louis Armstrong saga and the damning report of widespread doping in Australian sports, Kenya needs to look close at their runners who have for long been considered clean.

In 2010, just before the start of the Africa Athletics Championships in Nairobi, athletics icon Paul Tergat said at a media function that introduction of the Diamond League would lock out many athletes who did not meet time set for one to participate.

What was Tergat driving? All Tergat was asking was, “what do we do with all the hundreds of runners who cannot run at the Diamond League now that the Grand Prix where many Kenyans used to earn money was being watered down?”

Kiptanui, who won 3,000m steeplechase world titles in 1991, 1993 and 1995, charged that runners were doping because “they want to get money by all means”. IAAF has every right to raise the bar through such means like introduction of the Diamond League but it was upon the local federation to know what to do with hundreds of runners in the country who get locked out from the League.

Pay good prize money

Had AK been under innovative people, it would have come with programmes that would have ensured runners made money locally instead of depending on foreign races. We have many corporate bodies that can help AK have many races locally that pay good prize money but this can only happen if the Kenyan body leads by example.

 AK does not reward runners who do well but only boasts of having a large reserve of money – Sh100 million - in its account. Is AK meant to have such a surplus of money when there are athletes rotting in many parts of the country for lack of training facilities?

 The last time AK nurtured talent was when Sally Barsosio was in school. The federation paid her school fees after realizing that Italian manager Dr Gabriela Rosa and marathoner Moses Tanui were paying fees for several young runners as part of having them in schools such as Kapkenda and Sing’ore girls in Keiyo district - where they could hone their talent.

Foreign athletics managers who held a meeting with AK were told to always disclose to AK for approval, any food supplements they intended to give to their runners.

AK has at least shown some action by banning the three cheats. But it can do more by being pro-active in unearthing cheats, if they are there.

Performance enhancement is not about to disappear in sport

Now that AK has finally raised its head from the sand, let start having many well paying races in the country and spend its millions to develop talent and rewarding the runners than using the same for “administrative purposes. That way the drug use will die a natural death but slowly because it is already here.

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