Kenya’s top athletic governance body has set a raft of changes for athlete qualification to represent the country in world championships and the Olympics.
The Athletics Kenya (AK) focus is on weeding out drug cheats, as the body fights to change the tainted image of the country following a series of failed drug tests.
According to Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei, athletes seeking to represent the country will have to agree to provide three out-of-competition dope test results and a similar number during competition.
As part of efforts to further crackdown and enforce the rules, AK will also not include athletes who fail dope test in any national team going for the Olympic Games or world championships even if the dopers have been cleared and served their mandatory suspension
“We have very good talent, but they are being wasted by unscrupulous agents offering them dope,” Tuwei said in Nairobi, when he presided over the opening sensitization conference against doping.
Kenya has had over 50 cases of positive dope tests in the last six years, which has triggered the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to place it in category A, alongside Ethiopia, Ukraine and Venezuela of countries likely to have its athletes cheat.
This means that Kenya runners are subjected to intense and frequent test, especially prior to the global championships.
Tuwei said the issue, if left unchecked, could snowball and taint the country’s image, long known its prowess in distance running.
“There is no need to have a cheat running in national colors bringing ridicule to our country. We will stick to athletes that agree to run and win clean,” Tuwei stressed.
New York marathon champion Mary Keitany asked young athletes to be careful who they sign up with as their coach.
Keitany warned, many coaches are lustful for quick rewards and may push them to cheat in order to win international accolades.
“Run clean and always train hard. That is the simplest way to win and remain in the sport for long. Doping is harmful to your body and will always expose you. Once caught, your career will be gone,” said Keitany.