Eldoret — Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) head of programs Thomas Capdevielle says the large turnout of over 100 athletes and 21 of their handlers on the opening day of the Athletics Kenya (AK) conference in Eldoret proves that Kenya is serious about fighting the doping menace.
The opening day of the conference in Kenya's athletics 'capital' was attended by road athletes in part of AIU's resolution to tackle the doping menace among this group of sportsmen and women' under which most of the banned individuals crop from.
"I have never been to such a session that is full of some of the world's finest long-distance runners including world and Olympic champions. This is unique and amazing. It's my hope that athletes will take advantage of what they have learned to spread the message of clean sports," said Capdevielle.
AK Chief Executive Officer, Susan Kamau said the athletes were indeed impressed with the session.
"This is the first time we are having a session with all elite road runners. They want more of these sessions hence we shall have consultations with AIU to have similar next year," said Kamau.
Capdevielle said they came up with the initiative after extensive analysis of road running and discovered that 76 per cent of 50 road race winners in World Athletics Gold Label races were not part of any out-of-competition anti-doping program in 2018.
World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, who is also the Olympic Marathon champion, World marathon champion Ruth Chepng'etich and World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor were in praise of the AIU initiative.
Also in support were women's World Marathon record holder Brigid Jepkosgei, all women's World record holder Mary Keitany, Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot and World 800m record holder David Rudisha.
"This one was quite unique with the classwork sessions being spiced up with team building," said Kipchoge adding that there is now no reason why athletes have to dope under the pretext that they didn't have the knowledge or know-how.
"Athletes must be responsible and respect and guard their passion that is Athletics," said Kipchoge.
Chepng'etich noted that the sessions went deep into doping issues that most athletes didn't understand.
"I have never been to such a session where you leave satisfied. This one was better than last year since we engaged in practical and was enjoyable," said Chepng'etich.
Keitany said the team-building and AIU doping sessions were the best.
"Most road running athletes are not in the testing pool hence these sessions have been beneficial," said Keitany.
Kamworor said considering Eldoret at the venue was commendable since most of the road runners hail from the area. "The burden is now on us athletes to slay this dragon called doping," said Kamworor.