There will be no room to hide for age cheats in athletics

World U-20 5,000m World Champion Zakayo Edward (right), Festus Cheruiyot and Shadrack Kurgat, train at a slanting field at St Francis Korongoi Mixed Day Secondary School in Elgeyo Marakwet County on January 20, 2021.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • We have particularly focused on anti-doping and career development talks in a bid to bring up focused athletes. 
  • AK President Jackson Tuwei has severally said that it was necessary to inculcate the values of fairness and equality in young athletes at the onset of their careers, rather than wait until when they are unlikely to heed advice. 

As we race towards the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi this August, I want to address the junior athletes about age-cheating. 

First, I must say there is no difference between doping, match-fixing, fraud and age-cheating.

At Athletics Kenya (AK), we have grappled with issue for long and it is now time we brought it to an end.

This time round, AK has developed a fool-proof system to verify the true ages of athletes. The system consists of a bio-data containing athletes’ details which are updated regularly. 

The system inputs data on the ages of various athletes who have competed in various competitions at the national and county levels. 

The results and bio-data are then kept for verification of the date of birth of various individual athletes.

With this in place, I would like to warn potential culprits that AK will deal with them ruthlessly should they be found. 

We want to bring up morally upright athletes and things will have to change going forward. Gone are the days when 25-year-olds used to falsify age in a bid to fit into the youth cadre.

We would also like to caution coaches, agents and managers who misguide athletes into such vices that they will not be spared in the latest effort to instill fairness and equality in various athletics competitions. 

Of interest is that the new system will also monitor athletes’ academic performances with a view to providing the brighter ones with scholarship opportunities. 

Those who do well in school will receive scholarships to further their education and the support necessary to grow their talents in athletics. 

At AK, we care about the youth and that is why we embarked on a vigorous campaign last year to instill good values among young athletes through countrywide workshops. 

We have particularly focused on anti-doping and career development talks in a bid to bring up focused athletes. 

AK President Jackson Tuwei has severally said that it was necessary to inculcate the values of fairness and equality in young athletes at the onset of their careers, rather than wait until when they are unlikely to heed advice. 

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