James Magayi @magayijim Athletics Kenya (AK) has tightened the noose on drug cheats by decreeing that convicted dopers will henceforth never be selected to represent Kenya in international championships. The move is one more step on the path for redemption for a federation whose athletes have been caught cheating in droves in the last three years.
Kenya has been consequently bracketed in a disgraceful watch-list alongside neighbours Ethiopia and European states Belarus and Ukraine. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and global athletics governing body IAAF are impressed with the steps Kenya has made since 2015 but are not fully convinced of the country’s testing regime in spite of an effective programme instituted by Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK).
AK’s stance will effectively help steer the sport into the path of desired clean running and hopefully extricate itself from the watch-list. President Jack Tuwei challenged athletes to prove their prowess by winning clean or face banishment.
“It has taken 20 years to get Kenya to the doping watch-list. The first case was reported way back in 1994 and we are now on a path to clean the sport locally as well as with international partners. It will be a long journey but we are braced for it,” said Tuwei.
“Any athlete caught doping, any athletes who tests positive for banned substance or anyone found in violation of anti-doping code will never be selected to represent Kenya. That should be made clear to anyone who is contemplating taking a shortcut to fame and fortune,” added Tuwei during the National Cross-Country Championships at Uhuru gardens on Saturday where the federation selected 30 athletes to represent the country in next month’s Africa Cross-Country meeting in Algiers, Algeria.
AK, in conjunction with ADAK had the previous day hosted all participants to an educational seminar where athletes were warned on the dangers of doping to their careers and personal health. The athletes also got an updated list of banned substances. Evans Bosire, AK Public Relations Director, revealed that the federation settled on the harsh stance to deter athletes and preserve Kenya’s niche.
“We have for a long time hidden behind ignorance. In the last one year, AK and ADAK have carried out extensive educational and awareness programmes all over the country,” said Bosire.
“Not a single athlete can say they have not received the message because we go to them in training camps and also in such gatherings. The fight on doping is one that must be won and Athletics Kenya will use all means to win,” he added.