Kenya’s world-conquering athletes returned home on Tuesday to a hero’s welcome.
The team was received at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, by Deputy President William Ruto, among others.
Mr Ruto later hosted a special breakfast to honour the team at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi.
Kenya won seven gold, six silver and three bronze medals to finish top at the World Athletics Championships held in Beijing between August 22 and Sunday.
Mr Ruto announced that the Government will put in place measures to address the problem of doping which threatens the development of athletics in the country.
He said plans were underway to give the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya the powers to prosecute doping offenders.
The Government will also take stern action against doctors or trainers found engaging in doping.
“We will not only deregister doctors taking part in this exercise but will ensure they are prosecuted,” said Ruto.
The Deputy President’s warning came against the background of reports that two Kenyan athletes had tested positive for an unspecified banned substance during a pre-event test in China.
The failed tests by sprinters Joyce Sakari (400m) and Francisca Koki (400m hurdles) come in the wake of serious doping allegations involving Kenyan athletes.
Sakari and Koki now join the list of over 40 Kenyan athletes who have been banned in the last three years for failing dope tests.
Koki, the 2014 Africa bronze medallist, ran an explosive 55.82secs to not only win the national title on July 15 but also improve her own national record time of 55.84secs to qualify for the World Championships. However, Koki failed to go past the first round at the World Championships.
Sakari obliterated her previous national record mark by 0.43 to ease through to the semi-finals of the 400m at the World Championships in a time of 51.14secs. Sakari failed to start her semi-final race owing to the positive dope test.
Ruto’s warning comes four months after Athletics Kenya moved swiftly to ban several athletics agents, managers and coaches pending investigations into alleged involvement in doping cases and abuse of young athletes.
Leading track and field agents, Rosa Associati and Volare Sports were banned for six months in April, within which the its managers will be investigated.
AK also announced the closure of the Keringet training camp ran by former national cross-country team coach Charles Ng’eno who has in the past used training programmes designed by one of the most successful athletics coach, Italian Renato Canova.
It’s Rosa Associati camp managed by Italian Federico Rosa that coached Rita Jeptoo, who was banned in January for two years after testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO). Another athlete from the camp Matthew Kisorio had in July last year completed a two-year ban for testing positive for Epo.
Rosa handles several Kenyan athletes, including reigning World champion Asbel Kiprop (1,500m).
Currently, Athletics Kenya Medical and Doping commission, the newly established Anti- Doping Agency of Kenya and the Kenya Police are investigating the banned firms and its managers.
Also under investigation is Gerard Van de Veen of the Netherlands who manages the reigning world marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto and former record holder Wilson Kipsang, Geoffrey Mutai, two-time New York winner among others under Volare Sports for purportedly violating unspecified AK rules.
Before being hosted for breakfast at Ruto’s residence and later at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, the triumphant Team Kenya was treated to a six-star reception at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The busy airport came to a stand-still as Team Kenya captain Ezekiel Kemboi and fellow gold medallists Julius Yego and Nicholas Bett exited at the international arrival lobby, waving the national flag. Family members, relatives, friends and members of the public, who had patiently waited from an early as 4am, broke into song, dance and ululation as the athletes made their way out.
Ruto and Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario went inside the lobby to usher the athletes out. Also accompanying him were governors Joshua Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Cleophas Lagat (Nandi) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and senators Mike “Sonko” Mbuvi (Nairobi) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet).
The paltry crowd inside cheered when Ruto and other dignitaries jogged towards the athletes who had just disembarked from the Kenya Airways plane that landed shortly after 6.30am. The other medalist to arrive was Helah Kiprop, who won silver in women’s marathon.
The chilly morning and a slight confusion at the arrival lobby didn’t deter Ruth Sugut and Esther Boit from welcoming their sons Yego and Bett respectively with traditional Kalenjin milk popularly known as Mursik.
The athletes were then decorated with Sinendet, Kalenjin twigs designed specifically for triumphant warriors.