I asked Justin Lagat, the senior writer in Kenya for @runblogrun, to comment on the recent doping crack down in Kenya. His comments follow.
Anti-doping work getting done, but too much counterproductive noise about the doping menace in Kenya.
There has been a lot of work being done by the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya, ADAK; the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and the athletics governing body (AK) of late to make sure that any athlete who attempts to cheat in Kenya does not get away with it. The results have been quite impressive with a good number of dopers being caught. So far, into the year, there have been two high ranked Kenyan runners; Wilson Kipsang and Alfred Kipketer being charged with whereabout violations.
“Our stand on doping is well known and we are now working very closely with Athletics Integrity Unit, ADAK and Kenya government to eliminate the menace. Athletes should know that with the kind of machinery we have to fight doping, there is nowhere to hide for them and it is either they work hard and remain relevant in the sport or hang their spikes all together because the anti-doping winds are too strong for those who want to engage in hide and seek,” Athletics Kenya president, Jackson Tuwei said in a recent press conference.
However, so many other stories coming out as well take away the full focus on the real facts in the battle against doping.
Sunday Times just wrote an article that the Nike shoe used by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei to obliterate Paula Radcliffe’s women’s marathon world record last year is likely to be banned when World Athletics introduces new rules on running shoes. Many have tried to attribute Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge’s success in becoming the first man to run a marathon in under two hours as well to Nike’s shoes.
Someone from a different planet just landing on Earth right now and reading the latest news about athletics will be forgiven for thinking that the Nike Vaporfly shoes are only made in Kenya and are exclusively used by Kenyan runners.
In other news, the Reuters reported that a top Kenyan athlete ran away from anti-doping testers who had visited their training camp unannounced to take samples, with the report allegedly coming out from a senior athletics authority official in Kenya. This paints a picture of a person whose house catches fire, but the first thing they do is add more fuel to the fire and call for a press conference to tell them the house is burning instead of focusing on putting out the fire. Why not just pursue the said athlete instead of using the incident to taint the image of more Kenyan runners as a whole?
With no one being arrested for sourcing the drugs to the athletes, and athletes like Asbel Kiprop still denying any wrongdoing and explaining the circumstances surrounding their sample collections, I think the best way to fight doping would be to follow one case to a full conclusion. If an athlete is found to have doped, the drug he/she used be mentioned, the person who gave them the drugs gets mentioned and the source of the drugs let known; that would be a great breakthrough in the fight against doping.
So much noise around this topic will only serve to bring more confusion rather than solutions.