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Why doping will be criminal in Kenya

Tuesday December 3 2019

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (right) addresses the press flanked by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) Head of Programmes Thomas Capdevielle at Hilton hotel, Nairobi on December 3, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (right) addresses the press flanked by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) Head of Programmes Thomas Capdevielle at Hilton hotel, Nairobi on December 3, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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The government has already formed a team to amend anti-doping laws to make doping criminal, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed has disclosed.

Mohammed said athletes were the only people reprimanded for doping yet many other parties were involved .

"The conversation is on and we want to ensure that the whole lot takes responsibility, from coaches to managers, doctors and pharmacists. We shall expand the area of concern," said Mohammed, who added that the government, through the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) and Athletics Kenya, was committed to eradicating doping in the country ''for a cleaner sport''.

Mohammed, who did not state when the laws will be ready, reiterated that athletes reprimanded for doping will never represent the country again.

"We want a culture of honesty in sports," said Mohammed, adding that Adak has introduced a new programme, Value Base Education, that will target sportsmen and women below the age of 18 on matters doping.

Mohammed was speaking during an international press conference convened by World Athletics' Athletes Integrity Unit (AIU) and Athletics Kenya (AK) at the Hilton Hotel ahead of the athletes' conference starting on Thursday in Eldoret.

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In attendance were AIU head of programmes Thomas Capdevielle, AIU head of education and communication Aditya Kumar, Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei, Adak CEO Japhter Rugut and Confederation of Africa Athletics Athletes Commission president David Rudisha.

AIU has partnered with Adak and AK to popularise their newly-launched Road Running Integrity Programme for 2020.

Capdevielle said that World Athletics and AIU support Kenya's quest to have doping criminalised.

Capdevielle described AK's initiative for a conference as unique and one of its kind in the world. "We thought it wise to start our Road Running Integrity Programme in Kenya since most of the road runners come from Kenya," said Capdevielle.

Capdevielle disclosed that following extensive analyses of road running, they discovered that 76 per cent of 50 road race winners in World Athletics Gold Label races were not part of any out-of-competition anti-doping programme in 2018.

"In the same year, we noted that 74 per cent of the podium finishers in those Gold Label road races were not included in out-of-competition testing pools in the sport or their countries," said Capdevielle. "In 22 per cent of those races, not a single athlete who finished on the podium in either the male or female race was tested out-of-competition."

MAJOR RISK

Capdevielle said that this situation posed a major risk to the integrity of the road running events.

"Given the uniqueness of the road running industry where the pool of talented runners competing at the highest level and earning a good living from it runs deeper than any other discipline in athletics," said Capdevielle, adding that protecting the integrity of the road running industry required more funding to cover a wider group of athletes.

Under the previous system, the AIU and World Athletics funded the first 50 road runners in the testing pool.

AIU intends to use between US$2.6 million (Sh260 million) and US$3.2m (Sh320 million) in their Road Running Integrity Programme in the year 2020.

There are 262 athletes registered by World Athletics Road Running and Capdevielle said that between 40 and 60 athletes will be added to the testing pool in 2020. Previous testing pools included just 70 runners and, by February next year, World Athletics will have about 300-320 runners.

Capdevielle explained that after Wednesday's session with close to 130 road running athletes that will include athletes from Uganda , they will move to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for similar sessions.

Capdevielle said criminalising doping will take the battle against doping in athletics a notch higher. "World Athletics doesn't want to interfere with Kenyan affairs but we want more done in investigations to punish those involved in doping, including coaches, doctors and pharmacists," said Capdevielle.

Rudisha said that since the inaugural conference last year, athletes have immensely benefited in areas of doping, investment, taxation, ethics and media relations. "Sports is an industry and I am happy Athletics Kenya and their partners AIU and World Athletics have worked hard for the welfare of athletes," said Rudisha, who added that clean athletes have suffered most owing to the few athletes who have resorted to doping.

"These cheats have stolen the podium finish thunder from clean athletes but i'm happy that will end with such efforts."

Rugut said that since the establishment of Adak in 2016, they have done over 3,000 tests with 136 workshops having been held. "We have done 567 in the last five months and this is great," said Rugut.

Tuwei said the conference in Eldoret, which starts on Thursday through to Saturday, will dwell on anti-doping, legal matters, investment, taxation, ethics and values, and athletes' media relations.

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