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Kenyans must urgently unite to fight the doping menace

Thursday July 11 2019

Kenya's Joyce Chepkirui celebrates winning the final of the women's 10,000m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 29, 2014. PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS |

Kenya's Joyce Chepkirui celebrates winning the final of the women's 10,000m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 29, 2014. PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS |  AFP

BARNABAS KORIR
By BARNABAS KORIR
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The doping revelations in Kenya continue to make headlines around the world despite efforts by Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) and Athletics Kenya (AK).

The latest casualties are the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Africa 10,000 metres champion Joyce Chepkirui and Jacob Kibet Kendagor, Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said it had provisionally suspended the two Kenyan athletes for doping, the latest in a string of doping cases in the East African nation.

The AIU said it had suspended Chepkirui for the discrepancy in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) while Kendagor, who in 2017 came second in the Hamburg and Istanbul Marathons, had been reprimanded for “evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection”.

While this should not surprise us anymore, I want to tell my fellow athletes that with the ABP, there is nowhere to hide and it’s just a matter of days before those involved in doping are brought to book. Kenyan athletes are among those required to have at least three out-of-competition doping tests in the 10 months before a world championship or Olympics under the tougher new anti-doping rules by the IAAF and one can not hide.

NO SECOND CHANCE

This situation has been made worse by the fact that there is no second chance. At AK, we have long decided that any athlete involved in doping should forget returning to active running. AK passed a resolution in April that any athlete who was sanctioned for abusing banned substances would not be allowed to represent the country even after serving IAAF suspensions.

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While we have received criticism as far as this issue is concerned, we think it is for the good of everyone in as far as the future of the sport is concerned. For us to end the menace, I believe we have to put in place stern measures. The thinking by athletes that they will come back, after all, is what is encouraging more athletes to venture into the vice. It’s four years now since we were put on World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) compliance watch list and we ought to have turned a page in the fight against doping.

Greed by a few athletes should not destroy a whole generation. I am saying this because if we go the Russian way, it will be hard to come back and that is not what we want.

Athletics is the country’s pride and as AK, we have the duty to safeguard it against those who have an agenda to wreck it.

Thus, fight against doping should be supported by all arms of government irrespective of what the law says.

In fact, the menace should be declared a national shame and those involved in one way or the other be shunned by society. We can not sit back and watch as a few greedy individuals destroy the sport.

However, we need to go back to primary schools to spread the messages of clean sport. With the current situation, one has no choice but to run clean if he or she has to compete internationally. Athletes must first remember that they are being watched all the time and must start doing the right thing.

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