Kenya plans new measures to stop dopers
22 October 2013, 22:45
Nairobi - Foreign athletes and coaches planning to train and work in distance-running epicentre Kenya could soon face a wealth of restrictions as authorities try to stop the scourge of doping.
Athletics Kenya chief Isaiah Kiplagat and sports minister Hassan Wario said claims that Kenya's running prowess was down to performance-enhancing drugs was damaging a major source of national pride and income.
"It will destroy one of the most important institutions in the country," Wario told reporters, admitting that claims that Kenyans were cheating had become "rampant".
The officials said they were drawing up procedures to keep a closer eye on agents, coaches and athletes who visit Kenya to look for local talent or profit from the famed running culture, ideal climate and altitude training facilities.
Kenya has long been seen as the world's running capital, and the sport has become a major source of income for hundreds of athletes, mostly from the Eldoret area of the Rift Valley region in the west of the country.
Specialised training camps have also cropped up, notably in the small town of Iten -- home to runners like 800m world record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha and marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang.
Thirteen Kenyan athletes -- none of them big stars -- tested positive for banned substances between January 2012 and 2013, and last year the country was pushed to the top of the IAAF's list of most-tested nations.
Kenyan officials had initially denied there was any doping going on, but have since acknowledged there is a problem -- blaming corrupt foreign agents who are encouraging young, naive athletes to cheat, as well as on foreign runners are heading to Kenya to avoid being tested.
Kenya's sports minister also questioned why the country was allowing foreign runners to train in the country at all, although he stopped short of calling for an overall ban -- something that would badly damage the booming economy in Iten.
"Why are we allowing these people into our country to train in the first place?" Wario asked, saying Kenyan athletes would certainly not be welcome to train in distance-running rival Ethiopia.
"Why are we allowing Mo Farah to come here and train and then go on to beat us?"