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Athletics doping probe hit by lack of funds

04 February 2014, 13:10

Nairobi - Kenyan athletes might be locked out of international championships after a 12-member probe committee appointed by the government to look into doping run out of funds.

Professor Moni Wekesa, who chairs the committee appointed by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, confirmed that they have no money to continue with the work.

"We had meetings with Sports Principal Secretary Patrick Omutia but he was resolute that there is no more money for us. Without increasing our allocation it will be almost impossible to go on with the work," Wekesa said in Nairobi.

The government gave the committee 55,000 U.S. dollars to work for 60 days and deliver a report upon, which was to form the baseline for the programme against doping in Kenya.

The committee has just worked for less than a month and exhausted their fund and still have a long programme before presenting their conclusions to the government. They are demanding triple the initial disbursement for them to clear the work.

"Our mandate was to last for 60 days. It expired on January 10, if you don't factor the Christmas holidays. In fact we just worked for 23 days and presented a preliminary report to the government. We have also asked them to release more money to us so we can complete the remaining assignment," said Wekesa.

The team wants 165, 000 dollars to clear the work. Wario named the committee in November last year in the wake of reports that Kenyan sportsmen and women were openly involved in doping.

Back in 2012, then World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) President John Fahey asked Kenya to investigate the matter after an undercover German television journalist reported that the blood- boosting drug EPO and other doping products were readily available in local camps in Kenya and over the counter sales in chemists and pharmacies.

"Kenyans are under the spotlight for their good performance internationally, and, to maintain credibility, therefore we have to ensure that anti-doping measures are fully in place," Wario said in November 2013.

Several star athletes including Olympic 800m Champion David Rudisha said the anti-doping campaign and Kenya's slow process to silence the rumours will cost them financially and emotionally.

"We win clean and we are tested numerous times. But there are calibres of young athletes, sprouting or keen to curve a niche that are trying to spoil the sport by going through short cuts. The government must rein on them and clean the sport," said Rudisha.

Recently, Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat also confirmed that plans are at an advanced stage to build a laboratory in Nairobi in 2014, to be used as a blood centre for testing.

He made the announcement at a seminar for athletes in Eldoret in the Rift Valley, where issues to do with doping and investments were discussed.

The blood centre will also serve Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Central African region. Currently, Africa has only one centre in Johannesburg, after Wada closed the one in Tunis.

"This will help cut down on the expenses and time taken to get the results done in Germany or South Africa," said Kiplagat.

The IAAF physician in charge of anti-doping, Dr Giussepe Fischetto, urged athletes to consult with sports doctors to identify the components of drugs and those that they should avoid.

Despite Wada concerns, it has taken over a year for Kenya to react, just a day before global conference in Johannesburg, where the country, together with Jamaica were a topic for dragging their feet over tackling the issue.

Wekesa said the consequences of them not finishing their work will be grave especially for local athletes.

"The whole world is waiting for this report because in it we are supposed to make recommendations on how to stop the vice if indeed it exists. Without it, local athletes are likely to be locked out of major international events," he added.

At the moment, the committee has interviewed over 110 people during its sittings held in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Kapsabet, Iten and Mombasa.

"We have also carried research on 918 active athletes by taking a sample of some the things they use," said Wekesa.

Since January 2012, increased doping tests have netted 17 Kenyan cheats. That is on the high side because since 2006 to 2012 only five cases were reported, most being out of ignorance or for medication purposes.

- Xinhua


Mikel: I respect Conte's decisions

26 October 2016, 20:51

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