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Report shows doping rampant in Kenyan sport

Tuesday December 16 2014

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Isaiah Kiplagat addressing a press conference on October 14, 2014 at Riadha House. The report, which was released by the Moni Wekesa-led task force set up by the government to investigate allegations of doping in Kenyan sport fiercely criticised Mr Kiplagat for not taking doping seriously after he refused to cooperate with the investigation. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Isaiah Kiplagat addressing a press conference on October 14, 2014 at Riadha House. The report, which was released by the Moni Wekesa-led task force set up by the government to investigate allegations of doping in Kenyan sport fiercely criticised Mr Kiplagat for not taking doping seriously after he refused to cooperate with the investigation. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Doping substances are commonly used across Kenyan sports, according to a government report, which found that steroids were given to players in the national Sevens rugby team, footballers are taking stimulants, and stores are selling banned substances to athletes.

The report, which was released by the Moni Wekesa-led task force set up by the government to investigate allegations of doping in Kenyan sport after a recent spike in cases, concludes there are no effective anti-doping controls in the country.

BLOOD-BOOSTING DRUG EPO

It also fiercely criticised Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat for not taking doping seriously after he refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Kiplagat “does not seem to understand the gravity of doping in athletics,” said the report, which was handed over to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Africa office in Cape Town, South Africa.

The anti-doping task force was eventually commissioned by the government to investigate after German broadcaster ARD alleged back in 2012 that there was widespread doping among the Kenya’s outstanding distance runners, saying the blood-boosting drug EPO and other prohibited substances were easily available from chemist stores in its famous high-altitude training camps.

VISITED IDENTIFIED SHOPS

With Kenya under pressure from world anti-doping body Wada to fully investigate the allegations, the long-awaited report agreed with some of ARD’s allegations.

“(Investigators) visited the identified shops and chemists and verified that indeed it was very easy to purchase very sophisticated performance-enhancing substances over the counter,” the report said.

The investigation was initially meant to focus on the recent rise of doping in athletics: Kenya has had 36 doping cases between 1993 and April this year, the report said, with 18 of those as recently as 2012 and 2013 and involving runners. But rugby and football also have significant problems.

The report called for disciplinary proceedings against the national rugby Sevens technical bench after steroids were found in player supplements in January.

There was “a concoction they (the coaches) gave players to drink at the beginning and end of training,” Wekesa said.

His report noted the players would stop taking the supplement a few days before competing.

Wekesa said that tests performed on the supplements were positive for steroids, and the Kenya Rugby Union was immediately informed.

DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES

The KRU handed over all the supplements and stopped giving them to players.

The report also suggested the national 15-a-side rugby technical bench should face anti-doping disciplinary procedures.

Athletes from different sports appeared to be using the same suppliers, according to the report, after it identified a supplement store in Nairobi as a possible provider of banned substance to runners.
The store was also the rugby team’s supplement provider under a previous coach.

And in football, there is “a lot of use of prohibited substances,” the report said, claiming players are using cannabis, cocaine, anabolic steroids and stimulants acquired from coaches and other players.

Overall, there are no effective anti-doping controls in Kenyan sport, the report said, and it urged the country to introduce anti-doping legislation.

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