The tough and uncompromising stance taken by Athletics Kenya in its quest to eradicate doping in the sport is laudable.
While their role is mainly the administration of the sport in the country, the steps AK are taking to ensure the doping menace is tamed should be given the requisite support by all stakeholders.
It is in the best interest of AK to ensure that the athletes are clean when they take part in local or international competitions because they are the ones who have been given the mandate by Kenyans to ensure all those who represent the country or take part in the sport do not drag country’s name in the mud or taint the sport loved by many for the honours it has brought the nation.
In conjunction with Adak, AK recently hosted the Athletes Conference in Eldoret in yet another indication that the fight against drugs in athletics has been taken to a notch higher. Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) officials attended the Eldoret forum and took athletes through the Anti-doping lessons.
The bid to have doping criminalised is another milestone in this fight that needs to be won. Already, a bill is with the ministry of sports to present to parliament to criminalise doping but until it is made law the war against dopers must continue.
However, it is not only the dopers who will find themselves in the dock. Those who help the athletes obtain the drugs and help them administer, should also have their day in court. This will act as a massive deterrent to the hangers on who would want to mislead the competitors for their own selfish gains.
While AK is taking steps to ensure the sport remains unsullied, the onus is on individuals athletes to ensure they are clean.
Unless it is institutionalised, the consequences of being found guilty of doping like it has been shown previously falls squarely on individuals. It is the athletes who benefit from their talent and should they use performance boosters, it is they who stand to lose financially and their freedom, when the Anti Doping bill is passed into law.
It is for this reason that athletes should continue to support and participate in initiatives like the anti doping forum that was held last December to ensure they have all the knowledge to keep them away from the doping menace.
Athletes should at all times be aware of what goes into their bodies as it is their responsibility when the authorities come in to test. When in doubt, they should not hesitate to seek expert advise from relevant authorities.
It is widely accepted that athletes procure the banned substances from second or third parties. The directive therefore for all coaches— both local and foreign—to register with AK with immediate effect in order to make it easier for their activities with the runners to be monitored should be supported.
The long and short of it is that athletes should take responsibility for their own careers because it is them who stand to lose most.