Athletics Kenya has stepped up the fight against doping, proposing life bans for athletes caught using prohibited performance enhancing substances.
The track and field association yesterday launched its anti-doping campaigns in the athletics-rich areas of Kapsabet and Nyahururu with AK President Jack Tuwei warning that life bans loom for drug cheats. "From today, any athlete who dopes and is punished will not represent Kenya in any event, including the Diamond League series, after serving the ban period," Tuwei told athletes at Nyahururu Stadium in Laikipia County where he presided over the launch of anti-doping campaign.
In the Kapsabet launch, attended by, among others, world and Olympic 800 metres champion and record holder David Rudisha, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang warned chemists in Kapsabet who may be involved in the selling of the prohibited drugs that their licenses will be revoked.
Rudisha said current and upcoming athletes should always desist from drugs, adding that he felt ashamed when a Kenyan athlete is found to have doped.
"I would like to tell the athletes to always run clean and avoid people purporting to help them. Our founding fathers made a name for us and it's always embarrassing when an athlete is using drugs to make quick cash," said Rudisha.
Former 800m world champion Janet Jepkosgei urged the athletes to use their talent well saying that she has been able to be in sport for the last 16 years because she runs clean.
"I have been able to run for the last 16 years because my sport was clean and I would urge the young and current athletes to stay away from drugs and always run clean. We are the ambassadors of clean sport," said Jepkosgei, nicknamed "Eldoret Express."
Athletics Kenya athletes' representative Milcah Chemos said it is extremely difficult to cheat in modern athletics.
"No matter how many years will pass, the culprit will always be caught and this should not happen to us athletes from Kenya because we are good ambassadors of clean sport," she said.
SIGN A PLEDGE
In Nyahururu, Tuwei said runners will now have to sign a pledge to run clean. "From now on, every runner will be required to carry with him or her an updated list of prohibited substance and show the list to their doctors at all time," he said. He noted that this will stop runners from engaging in blame games whenever they were found to have doped.
"Every runner is responsible of what goes into his or her body," he said and urged athletes in the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and the World Anti-Doping Agency testing pools to be updating their "whereabouts" information regularly. The "whereabouts" rule requires elite athletes to indicate their training locations and consumption of food and fluids.
"It is considered an offence equal to doping to fail to provide information on where the athlete will be at any given time," he said.
At the same time AK treasurer, David Miano said the association is continuously receiving information on confirmed fresh doping cases in the country.
He urged the runners to help the federation fight doping by providing intelligence.
"I'm urging you also to provide the federation with information that can lead us to get chemists and quack medical personnel who are involved in helping athletes in doping," he said.
The event was also graced by Laikipia deputy governor, John Mwaniki and AK officials both from national office and South Rift and Central regions and a number of athletes.
The athletes and officials had earlier held a procession in the streets of Nyahururu town carrying posters that read 'NO TO DOPING'.