Marathon runner Wesley Korir says Kenya will have the double task at the Rio Olympics: That of panning gold and also redeeming the image of a nation tainted by incessant doping allegations.
He spoke as the International Olympic Committee is studying the possibility of a blanket ban on Russia at the August 4-21 Games for abhorring State-orchestrated doping in the lead-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics last year.
His sentiments follows a series of doping claims targeting Kenyan athletes. Korir, the Cherang’any Member of Parliament and 2012 Boston Marathon champion, says Kenya will be out to prove to the world that all its athletes are clean.
Korir said Kenyan athletes have proved to the world before that they are champions and now it was time yet again to prove that they are free from doping.
“Besides proving we are champions, we are really determined to prove to the world that we are a bunch of clean athletes,” said Korir who will team up with World Marathon Majors champion Eliud Kipchoge and New York Marathon title holder Stanley Biwott on August 21 in the Olympic marathon race.
Speaking at the team’s training session in Eldoret on Tuesday, Korir said the Rio Olympics mean a lot to the Kenyan team since everyone is watchful of their performance following recent doping allegations that saw some sections of the international media calling on Kenya to be banned from participating in the Olympics.
Korir, himself, will be under extra pressure to deliver after edging out faster runners in catching the eyes of the Kenyan selectors. He won the 2012 Boston Marathon and has twice the Los Angeles Marathon in 2009 and 2010.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Olympic Committee on Tueday pressed on with its preparations for the Rio Olympic Games despite the threat of a ban for state-run doping hanging over the country.
At a meeting in Moscow the executive board approved a 387-strong team — including star names like pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, hurdler Sergei Shubenkov and tennis player Svetlana Kuznetsova — to compete at this summer’s games starting on August 5.
The team’s line-up includes the 68 track and field athletes, whose fate hinges on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, which is set to rule today on whether the IAAF had grounds to impose a blanket ban on Russia’s athletics federation.
“We today confirmed the composition of our team including the track and field athletes,” committee chief Alexander Zhukov told the press.
“The court decision will likely be tomorrow and tomorrow we will find out.”
Zhukov insisted that Russian sportsmen were still “capable of competing for medals” at the event in Rio and said they were training in Russia, Portugal and Brazil.
The preparations come despite a mammoth scandal that sees Russia under threat of a blanket Olympic ban following bombshell allegations of state-controlled cheating.
An independent Wada commission led by Canadian investigator Richard McLaren detailed an elaborate cheating scheme run by Russia’s sports ministry with help from the FSB state intelligence agency.