Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) are pushing hard to have doping criminalised so as to rein in on the soaring cases.
Adak chief executive officer, Japhter Rugut said they are in the process of making amendments to the current Anti-Doping laws as Nock second deputy president, Waithaka Kioni called for stiffer penalties away for the maximum of four-year ban.
Rugut said currently they can only operate under Anti-Doping Act 5 of 2016 which was negotiated between Kenya, World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
“We sanction offenders basing on the provision in that act,” said Rugut but hastened that there is a general feeling that the sanction of between months to a maximum of four years is not enough.
“We feel tougher measures ought to be in place but changes can only go through a process of enactment to law,” explained Rugut that there is need for a proper process where stakeholders’ views can be gathered to find out what else can be put in place.
Currently, both Adak and World Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) rules prescribe up to four years ban for offenders but AIU has had several cases getting eight years ban like that of the 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon champion, Jemimah Sumgong.
Kenya’s anti-doping laws only allow for a ban and fine for athletes found guilty but only subscribes a ban and jail term to those personnel involved in the vice.
Kioni said doping remains our biggest threat and must be dealt with ruthlessly.
“I know a motion is to be tabled in parliament to make doping a criminal offence. I hope these changes go through to have doping criminalised and offenders,” said Kioni, who is the chef de mission for Team Kenya for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Rugut and Kioni were speaking on Thursday during Nock webinar weekly conference, this time around moderated by Nation Media Group Sports Editor, Elias Makori.
Also in the panellist that discussed various issues to do with doping were Adak’s director for education and research, Agnes Mandu and renowned athletes Milcah Chemos and Rhonex Kipruto.
Kipruto, who the 5km and 10km Road races world record holder won bronze in 10,000m and the 2019 Doha World Championships while Chemos is the 2013 World 3,000 steeplechase champion.
Kioni said the postponement of the Olympic Games to next year has worked in their favour since they will have completed and adhered to requirements set aside for countries in Category “A” of doping list.
“We feared running out of time but the new dates gives us a reprieve,” said Kioni.
Rugut said that they are aware of the risk post by Covid-19 when it comes to testing but warned athletes that the open window isn’t a licence to commit doping offences.
“They know that there could be some window to allow them to dope where they will benefit from the effects. The drugs will have metabolised in their bodies,” said Rugut but warned the athletes that the new testing technology through Athletes Biological Passport (ABP) will eventually nail them.
“We shall have challenges in getting their blood samples owing to Covid-19 but let me tell them that we shall use the protective gears if need be,” said Rugut.
Rugut said food supplements remained a high risk area and advised sportsmen and women to avoid them. “Most of these supplements don’t have full prescriptions and are unregulated,” said Rugut.
Rugut and Mandu indicated that they will consider rehabilitation program for athletes who will have completed their ban.
Mandu took viewers through what Adak was doing and all the anti-doping rules and their consequences health wise and economically.
Mandu also spoke about the whereabouts scenario where she urged athletes to use their coaches and managers to update their whereabouts. “It is important for them to be within their latest location within the declared one-hour slot,” said Mandu.
Mandu, who was appointed to the Wada education committee, also highlighted some of the measures that Adak is taking in its bid to ensure that the sporting fraternity is well versed with doping related issues.
Rhonex cautioned athletes from using shortcuts to fame calling on them to work hard and smart in training.
Chemos said that she had suffered before at the hands of dopers who denied her moment of fame but implored the athletes to strive to run clean.
“When you dope, you are not only tainting your name but your country's name as well. Athletes should run clean, win right. I urge them not to fear expressing their views about the same and see Adak as their partner who mean good for the sport,” said Chemos.
Kipruto said he is still focused on winning Kenya’s first Olympic gold medal over 10,000m since 1968. “I am keeping myself clean. My coaches have been proactive in making sure I share my whereabouts, follow a strict diet and avoid prohibited substances.”