Why we must slay this age-cheating monster

age cheating

Athletics Kenya has unearthed a worrying trend of age cheating among athletes.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

It is very unfortunate that as we grapple with the monster of doping in Kenyan athletics, another one has emerged in the form of age cheating.

Athletics Kenya (AK) has unearthed a worrying trend of age cheating among athletes, which involves the forgery of identification documents such as birth and school leaving certificates.

Thus far, we have identified 26 cases extending as far back as 2016. It is a worrying phenomenon that not only endangers Kenya's reputation as a giant of the sport but the future of these culprits.

Nothing stays hidden forever so whoever thinks they can forge their age to participate in age-grade competitions, whether under 20 or under-18, will eventually be found out.

It does not help to fake your age and cruise your way to success at junior competitions because sooner or later you will have to transit to the senior level where the intensity goes up a notch.

Age cheating

Once a cheat always a cheat, and athletes who struggle to succeed at the senior level because they lied about their ages at the junior ranks are more likely to fall into the temptation of using banned substances to enhance their performance.

Age cheating is in the same bracket as doping because those who do it use unfair means to win competitions and hence, deny other hardworking athletes the chance to eat the sweat of their brows.

Aside from AK, international bodies such as the World Athletics and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) have instituted stringent measures to net those who engage in age cheating.

You may be able to escape our dragnet but rest assured you will not escape the global one considering how interconnected the world of athletics is.

Even when culprits are discovered way after retiring from the sport, they will still be punished, including losing their titles won at the junior level.

Not forgetting the shame and ridicule that comes with being identified as an age cheat.

As a federation, we are carrying out extensive investigations and will not hesitate to take action against any culprits identified.

We are also working with other stakeholders including parents, schoolteachers, government agencies and athletes to nip this vice in the bud before it blossoms into a full-grown monster. 

Let us all work together to ensure that integrity, transparency and hard work remain a core part of Kenyan athletics.


Korir is Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi Branch Chairman. [email protected]