Athletics Kenya yesterday refuted claims of rampant doping among Kenyan runners emanating from a German journalist and claimed the story is meant to distract Kenyan athletes ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat yesterday said they are shocked, disturbed, dismayed and perturbed by the report which was aired on German national TV ARD by Hajo Seppelt.
According to the report aired on German TV 'Sportschau' and on radio last Saturday, the journalist linked some Kenyan runners to doctors who perform blood doping which is an illegal method used to boost athletic performance by increasing the number of red blood cells in the body. The journalist who even named some top Kenyan athletes, Olympic and marathon champions in his show, interviewed a former chairman of the Anti Doping Denmark, Bengt Saltin who alleged to have noted varying changes in some of the Kenyan runners blood levels between 2008-2010 when they raced in Europe, which he argued explains some of the first times and exemplary performances in long distance races.
He further alleges that this malpractice may have gone unnoticed by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) as they never carry out tests to establish the varied blood levels. Seppelt claims he spent time in various parts of Kenya where he posed as an undercover sports agent and found that doping is rife not only amongst Kenyan middle and long distance runners but even with some of the foreign athletes who have been training in the famous high altitude areas of Iten.
In their rejoinder, AK said: "We are not aware of any athlete that has been found to have done this," said Kiplagat.
"These allegations coming at these time when we are preparing a strong team to the Olympics is very regrettable. Kenya is a member of WADA and we subscribe to their rules and regulations. I want to say that our athletes have been winning their races cleanly. We are asking that journalist to come forward and present this information to us to help us, the IAAF and others involved in athletics like the National Olym,pic Committee of Kenya to clean up any such mess."
"The events in which Kenyans have been taking part in are subjected to rigorous doping controls and our athletes are being accused unfairly."
Kiplagat said AK have been conducting awareness campaigns among athletes to show that the use of prohibited methods will not help them or the country. We are not here to defend ourseleves since nobody has come out with evidence saying so and so has won this or that race under influence but we just want to tell you that Kenya is a clean country," Kiplagat said.
"This is defamation of character and we are taken aback by this kind of journalism."
Noc-K chairman Kipchoge Keino added: "Somebody is not happy with our performances and wants to do a damage ahead of the Olympic Games. He (the journalist) should have come out and told us that we have found this and that to help us arrest the situation. All this amounts to jealousy."
Kiplagat added "They are not happy with our performances lately in marathon and middle distance events. This could be the reason some had even called for the scrapping of cross country. Kenya is swamped by IAAF doping officials day in day out and our athletes always reveal their whereabouts during the off-season."
He called on the athletes to continue with their training unperturbed.