Top Kenyan athletes have called for the national governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the world’s anti-doping body WADA to take action over reports of widespread doping.
Former world marathon record-holder Wilson Kipsang, who is also the chairman of the Professional Athletics Association of Kenya (PAAK), said the reports that more than 800 athletes, including 18 Kenyans, had “suspicious blood test results” between 2001 and 2012 was damaging the reputation of the sport.
“This issue of doping is not going down well for us, especially when the report is released just before the world championships in Beijing,” said Kipsang, who is one of three Kenyans entered in the men’s marathon event.
“As the president of PAAK, I believe it is time for the athletes of this country to work together to make sure that we control the issue of doping,” he said late Thursday.
“At the same time we should also respect the body given the mandate to take control of such issues.”
Earlier this month, leaked results from 12,000 blood tests taken from 5,000 competitors allegedly demonstrated instances of cheating, according to media reports on the database, reportedly created by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
German broadcaster ARD as well as Britain’s Sunday Times say they passed on their information to leading blood doping experts who concluded that track and field is in “the same diabolical position today that professional cycling was 20 years ago”.
Kenya was rocked this year when marathon star Rita Jeptoo was banned for two years after being caught doping with the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO.
Jeptoo is the biggest name in Kenyan sports ever to have been caught, and the bust has been a major trauma for a country that idolises its medal-winning and record-breaking runners.
But Kenyans have also sought to point the finger of blame at foreign coaches in the country.
Former New York marathon winner, Tegla Loroupe, said the Kenyan government has to be tough on foreigners coming to the country to manage Kenyan athletes.
“It shameful that our athletes are getting involved in drugs. I believe during my time there were positive cases,” said Loroupe, who like the others, was speaking at the end of a 22-day peace walk across northern Kenya.
“These negative reports do not only spoil the names of the current athletes but also cast doubts over the performances of the past.”
Others repeated the need for stronger rules over foreign coaches.
“We need to have a full control over our athletes,” said 1987 World marathon champion Douglas Wakiihuri. “We need to have a good control of our athletes, we were very free in this country and allow anybody to come and take charge of the athletes.”