We are still in the early days of the World Athletics Championships, yet in some quarters we are already hearing murmurs about Kenya’s poor showing.
Technically, we have only lost the women’s 10,000 metres because we did not win the men’s 5,000m and women’s 800m last time. Considering that this is true, we all know the reasons and it is not a mistake of our own.
We all know that for an athlete to feature in the World Championships, he or she needs to have taken part in three out-of-competition dope tests and one in-competition test. To make it worse, this has to happen 10 months prior to the global championships.
Kenya has over 3,000 athletes and it is difficult to conduct tests on all of them considering that they are scattered all over the country. Besides, it is a very expensive exercise that requires $900 (Sh90,000) per athlete for three tests plus you need to work within the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) deadlines.
Of course, the government has been supportive by providing Sh15 million for the drive through the Ministry of Sports, though a bit late. And even if the money was to arrive on time, it is impossible to conduct those tests on 3,000 athletes. This is because athletes cannot be notified in advance about the tests because this would be a breach of rules and a federation would face serious sanctions.
I want to make it clear that the testing of athletes and collection of samples is the prerogative of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and Athletics Kenya has no role. All the federation does is to assist ADAK on the whereabouts of athletes. Besides, some athletes are very arrogant in as far as AIU rules are concerned but we hope that with time, they will understand.
As a federation, we will use our end-year seminar to educate athletes on the same to avoid scenarios like the one that saw us drop a number of athletes from participating in the World Championships.
We are committed to abiding by the AIU rules and even if it meant sacrificing and taking 10 athletes to Doha, we would have done it because we have to abide by the rules and ensure zero tolerance of doping.
As Kenyans, we need to appreciate the effort and for once congratulate our athletes. We have two gold medals, so far, and still counting. Instead of criticising, we need to enjoy the races. Countries like Uganda only won the 800m and Kampala was thrown into celebration. Let us support our team.
Korir is the chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch. [email protected]