Mixed reactions regarding Rita Jeptoo's dope scandal: A View from Kenya, by Justin Lagat

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Mixed reactions regarding Rita Jeptoo's dope scandal, by Justin Lagat

In the last few days after RunBlogRun broke the news of Rita Jeptoo failing a dope test, the story has been rife in many newsrooms and on social media sites. The news has been greeted with mixed reactions of disbelief, shock and denials by agents, coaches and athletes. 

But, the good thing is that, it has brought in a better resolve by the athletic community in general, to step up the fight against doping, especially in Kenya. Many have now woken up to the reality that if nothing is done, doping is bound to ruin our favorite sport.

New York marathon winners, Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany, while spoke to reporters at the airport after they arrived in the country. Kipsang and Keitany jointly urged the Kenyan government to act and intervene on the doping situation in the country. Kipsang and Keitany claimed that when one athlete is caught, it taints the name of the country and of the other clean athletes in general.

There have also been reactions from veteran athletes, including Lornah Kiplagat,  who seemed to have been shocked by the news judging from her posts on Twitter and on Facebook, and from a brief chat we had regarding the issue. 

Here is some of what she had to say from her posts on twitter:

"Just don't understand why athletes cheat. Most of them are very talented and don't need it or are they "forced" by coaches / agents?" Was one of her earliest posts.

I got to chat briefly with her later and she had questions as to why the problem with doping among the top athletes in Kenya coincidentally has came mostly from one management group? From Pamela Chepchumba to Jemima Sumgong (Editor's note: RunBlogRun confirmed that this was not a banned drug, but an injection for bursitis, which was rejected by Athletics Kenya after IAAF noted that injection, which Sumgong had reported, was due to bursitis), to Mathew Kisorio, and now Rita Jeptoo.


Lornah Kiplagat also could not help noticing the abruptness at which Jeptoo's management immediately distanced itself from her instead of at least trying to support her until it was clear how and whether she had done it by herself. (Editor's note: See interview with Rosa).  

But this was her conclusion on the whole issue. "I agree that some agents/coaches are really bad (referring to doping) but at the end, you make your own decision, the athlete is responsible!"

Looking at the social media, many people including the renowned coach Renato Canova, who once worked with Rita Jeptoo,  attested to the fact that Rita Jeptoo is a nice athlete and a nice person. This could be the reason why the news about her doping was so shocking to many of those who knew her personally. But it seems, as I read somewhere on the many comments on this issue, being nice is different from being honest.

Many other Kenyan athletes across the social media expressed their utter disappointment and anger with the few cheats tainting the name of Kenyan athletes internationally and called for more effective measures to catch the cheats within the sport. Most of them also want harsher penalties to be employed, including a jail term and a longer time ban.

For now, Rita Jeptoo has asked for her B sample to be tested and it is likely that there won't be much developments on this story until the results of that test are out.

They say that every dark cloud has a silver lining. 

We can only hope that when dust settles on Rita Jeptoo's case, it will have taught many a lesson to shun doping for the betterment and health of their lives and for the growth and prosperity of our sport.

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