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Kenyan athletes welcome doping probe

12 November 2013, 20:10

Nairobi - Kenyan athletes, in a bid to prove they win clean, have welcomed a decision by government to form an Anti-Doping Task Force, to look into allegations of widespread doping in the country.

Sports Minister Hassan Wario named Dr. Moni Wekesa to lead the two-member committee, which has a 60-day working period to table a report on the infamous doping allegations that was brought to the fore by Germany TV last year.

"We are victims of our own success. Kenyans are known as world beaters in athletics and because of that we are under a microscope, and, to maintain credibility, we have to ensure that anti-doping measures are fully in place," Wario said when he named the committee on Monday.

Mathew Kisorio, one of the over 15 Kenyans serving doping bans said on Tuesday it was the right thing for the government to do.

Kisorio noted that many athletes fall victim out of ignorance and by false means, mostly perpetuated by their lustful managers, agents and coaches, with the assistance of medical personnel in the country.

"This will help us. It will educate us and we will also be able to point out the firms, doctors and coaches encouraging the same.

"Many athletes might be taking medication, which they have no knowledge of their work. Such committees if they visit the training camps will be able to shed light on the same," Kisorio said.

"I raised the matter with Athletics Kenya, but they were slow in response. When the German journalists arrived here and interrogated us, we told them what was exactly happening. But Athletics Kenya disowned me and left me out to hang and dry. My ban ends on July 10, 2014 and I will be happy to return," he added.

"It is like a lot of time being out, doing nothing. I almost stopped and went back to being a policeman, but am back on my training program with my brother Peter Kimeli, the Paris marathon champion, Nicholas Togum in training."

World marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang also lauded the government effort and said the vice has to be rooted out of the country.

"There is no room for cheats in sports. I support WADA effort and Kenyan government initiative to go down and look at these allegations. We train hard and it is wrong to be lumped in such a group of cheats just because we are from Kenya," he said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the world athletics governing body IAAF had threatened to sanction Kenya if it failed to report on their findings to WADA.

The team led by Professor Moni Wekesa must find out if Kenyan athletes are guilty of this charge.

With a WADA Summit starting in Johannesburg Tuesday, Kenya move will give the country temporary reprieve and less criticism.

Last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency asked Kenya to investigate after an undercover German television journalist reported that the blood-boosting drug EPO and other doping products were readily available to local athletes.

"That was correct, I led these journalists through the search and we found out some of the doctors doing it. But nothing has happened to them, they still operate," said Kisorio.

With Kenya dominating the middle and long distance races, this was expected to dent the country's image. But the committee will seek to restore some pride if their finding absolves the elite runners.

Over the last three years, Kenyan athletes have produced some record-breaking performances including David Rudisha (800m), Patrick Komon (10km and 25km), Wilson Kipsang (marathon) among others.

Moni Wekesa team will also investigate the involvement of person or persons in the administration or the supply of drugs to the athletes and assess the true extent of doping and the availability of banned substances.

"The task force findings will be baseline for the program against doping in Kenya," he said.

Since January 2012, increased doping tests have netted 17 Kenyan cheats.

While none of them have been big-name record breakers, the findings have contradicted previous assertions from Athletics Kenya that its runners are spotless.

- Xinhua


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