What you need to know:
- Distance runners Oloitiptip, Mutai latest Kenyans to be busted for violating anti-doping rules
- End of the road for athletes found doping even after they have completed their bans
Athletes suspended for doping offences will not be allowed to compete both locally and internationally after they complete their sentences, Athletics Kenya (AK) has said.
In a move aimed at tightening the grip on drug cheats and deterring would-be offenders, AK also say they are considering withdrawing passports of athletes sanctioned for the use of banned performance-enhancing substances.
In an interview with Nation Sport yesterday, AK President Jack Tuwei said the proposed stringent measures against such offenders include terminating their employment contracts should they be serving in the uniformed forces that include the National Police Service, Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya Prisons Service.
Tuwei spoke as the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) named two more Kenyans on their list of athletes facing sanctions for violating anti-doping regulations.
Distance runners Alex Korio Oloitiptip and Mikel Kiprotich Mutai are among a list of five athletes facing disciplinary action being the latest to be picked out by the Monaco-based integrity unit in the month of March.
Others are American sprinters Deajah Stevens and Gabrielle Thomas along with Indian discus thrower Sandeep Kumari.
Oloitiptip, a 58 minute and 51 seconds half marathoner, Stevens and Thomas have been suspended indefinitely for flouting the “whereabouts” rule while Mutai was found to have used norandrosterone, a banned anabolic steroid.
Kumari was busted for using methenolone, which is also a banned androgen and anabolic steroid.
Stevens and Thomas have appealed against their bans with their cases before AIU’s Disciplinary Tribunal.
Stevens, a Harvard University alumna, was a finalist in the 200 metres at both the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships in London and the US champion over the distance in 2017.
Thomas, with a personal best of 22.19 seconds in the 200 metres, is a former collegiate sprints champion from her days at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
So far, about 55 Kenyan athletes are serving bans of between two and eight years for various doping offences.
But Tuwei said despite the increasing numbers, the association will not relent in their war against doping in Kenya.
“We have developed a rule in AK that athletes who have been caught doping and who have served suspensions will not be allowed to compete in both local and international competitions after completing their bans,” Tuwei said.
“We have already banned such athletes from competing for Kenya, and we are working with other agencies to consider even withdrawing the passports of these athletes so that it’s not business as usual after they serve their bans.”
The retired Lieutenant-General, a former Commander of the Kenya Army, said AK has discussed various aspects of anti-doping control with the uniformed forces and will come up with testing protocol with offenders expected to be ejected from the forces.
“Some of the athletes caught doping are employees of the government. They cannot be allowed to continue working for a government they have messed,” Tuwei said.
He expressed concern over the increase in the number of athletes suspended for flouting the “whereabouts rule” which demands that athletes declare their location at any one given time over a period to allow for random, out-of-competition tests to be conducted.
“There have been increased cases of flouting of the “whereabouts rule” and in the uniformed services, the doping control officers have been unable to access athletes because they are in training in restricted areas,” he explained.
“We have discussed with the (uniformed forces) authorities that these doping control officers should be escorted by the authorities to where these athletes are so that they don’t miss the ‘whereabouts’ tests, because if the athletes miss up to three visits by these officers, they will end up being banned not because of a fault of their own, but simply because they were in restricted areas.”
Besides these new regulations, Tuwei also said they will impose bans on unauthorised individuals visiting athletes’ training camps, some of whom have been suspected of abetting in doping, while others lay false claims on the operations of these training camps to create sensational headlines.
Last week, Arve Bergan, a Norwegian freelance journalist, made sensational claims published in European media to the effect that used syringes were found at Iten’s Kamariny Stadium, claiming this “discovery” pointed at widespread doping in Kenyan athletics.
Both AK and Kenyan police authorities are investigating these claims.
When Bergan was challenged to back his allegations, he said he had reported the same to Norwegian police who, however, have no jurisdiction over Kenya.
Tuwei said the athletes so far busted for doping have shamed the nation and betrayed the government’s trust in them.
“The government, and His Excellency the President, are supporting the athletes by looking at how the most vulnerable athletes can be assisted during this Covid-19 pandemic, but the few athletes caught doping are simply not reciprocating this gesture and are giving the country a bad name instead,” Tuwei observed.