This is a big deal in Kenya. Justin Lagat thought that we should know about the situation in the 1,500m and the Athletics Integrity Unit rules. This shows, however well-meaning, this challenge needs to be remedied by AIU and Athletics Kenya.
Michael Kibet and Daniel Simiu finished first and second respectively in the men’s 5000m race at the 2019 trials for the World Championships, but they got dropped from the national team for failure to meet the AIU rule that requires athletes in category “A” countries to undergo out of competition tests at least three times in a period of 10 months ahead of major championships.
Kamar Etyang finished second in the men’s 1500m race at the pre-Olympic trials in May, then finished second again notably ahead of Timothy Cheruiyot at the real national Olympic trials last month rightfully earning a place in the national team to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
However, it was soon to emerge that Etyang, not from a failure on his part, was about to be dropped from the team for having failed to have been tested three times in accordance to rule 15 of AIU requirements of countries in category “A”.
This flooded the social media sites with a lot of accusations and counter-accusations as to who failed to do their job. Obviously, Etyang was not expected to test himself.
If no proper methods are put in place to ensure that athletes who have the potential to make the national teams to major championships are tested accordingly, then some athletes will feel discriminated against when others are tested and given the entitlement to represent the country while others, who may perform better than them at the trials, fail to make the national team simply because the anti-doping body in the country failed to test them.
There has always been a fair way to get athletes into the national teams without anyone crying foul. That is, by having the first two finishers in the trials automatically qualify and a third one to be considered by a panel of selectors.
Perhaps it is time the sports federations in Kenya also consider conducting “trials” to have a good number of athletes entered in a testing pool ten months to the national trials in a way that seems fair to all the athletes. The “trials” for the testing pool may be conducted for all the potential athletes who are not already on the AIU testing pool. This way, the athletes will not feel left out if they miss being tested since at least they will now have something to do about it and qualify for it.
Well, that could only be one of the practical ways to solve it. But, the main thing here is to find an amicable solution and seal loopholes that could result in an uneven playing field for all the athletes trying to make it to the national team.