The many initiatives now in place to ensure a clean sport are encouraging, A View from Kenya, by Justin Lagat

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Koech_Gladys-KenyaXC15.jpg
Kenyan XC Trials, photo by PhotoRun.net

The recent drug crisis in Kenya has not reached its denouement. There have been some good changes taking place in Kenya and Justin Lagat, our Kenyan correspondent, writes about what he sees as the positive changes in Kenya and abroad. 

My concern continues to be that testing is not enough. Athletes and the teams around athletes need to see that the penalties for drug cheating are so draconian that it is just plain unthinkable, then, we will have negated much of doping in sport. 
The many initiatives now in place to ensure a clean sport are encouraging: 

There is a reason to be optimistic about the doping menace in athletics being contained soon given the many structures being put in place by WADA, IAAF and WMM to ensure that athletes who dope do not get away with it. More weight is being added to the structures that have always been there to fight doping, new initiatives are being set up,  more funds are  being directed to anti-doping research programs and in educating coaches and athletes.
Stakeholders in the sport of athletics were surprised by the recent cases of doping cases and allegations, but all these have acted as a wake up call for more stringent measures to be put in place. So far, below are some of the recent changes that points to a better future ahead.

1.      Increase in out of competition testing by WADA, IAAF and WMM

The Abbott World Marathon Majors, in partnership with IAAF and other national federations, have put in place  anti-doping efforts and continues to strengthen the out of competition testing programs on a pool of championship-eligible runners.

It was in one of these out of competition testing programs that the two times Boston and Chicago winner, Rita Jeptoo, was caught.

2.      New prize payment structure by AWMM

Starting with the new one year cycle that began at the Tokyo Marathon this past  weekend and ends at the same event next year, the payment of the WMM jackpot prize money will be issued, $100,000 annually, over a five year period. This will ensure that the athletes' biological passports are monitored well over the long period and instances of athletes getting paid before they are discovered to have been doping will be avoided.
One such incident happened with Liliya Shobukhova of Russia and also nearly happened in Rita Jeptoo's case after the latter's story came out days before she could receive her prize.

3.  Anti-doping seminars and workshops by federations and athletes' bodies are on the rise

In Kenya, for example, a number of such seminars have been conducted across the country within the past two months. Some of them have been conducted by the national federation, Athletics Kenya, while others have been organized by the new athletes' body in the country, the PAAK.
The only problem with such seminars is that it hardly reaches the common athletes on the ground because they are often held in places and venues where only those who have funds to travel can attend.

4.      Printed anti-doping materials by concerned initiatives

Of late, some athletic managements and athletes have printed out T-shirts, calendars, bracelets, caps, etc that pass the message to athletes to say no to doping while at the same time expressing pride in running clean.
These have served to remind those who may have had the intention to cheat that many other athletes are competing clean and that we all need a clean sport.

5.      More internet and social media anti-doping sites are being set up by concerned athletes and federations.

The internet and social media now has many sites that give out information to athletes regarding matters to do with doping.
Twitter and Facebook sites are full of harsh tags like #runnersagainstdoping, #cleansport #saynotodoping, etc.

With all these happening; more testing, advancement in technology to get the cheats, education and campaign initiatives, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Doping cases will eventually have to drop drastically, if not end completely.

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