Kenya: NOC-K Sensitizes Sportspeople On Doping in Latest Online Conference

Nairobi — The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) has affirmed that it will closely work with federations, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and government through the Ministry of Sports to ensure doping is stemmed out of the country.

This was announced by the NOC-K second vice-president, Waithaka Kioni when speaking at the fourth online sports conference on Thursday, where he was one of the panelists alongside Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) CEO Jasper Rugut and his counterpart Agnes Mandu who is the Director Education and Research, with the webinar topic being doping.

Others in the discussion moderated by veteran Sports Journalist, Elias Makori are World Record holder in 5KM and 10KM, Rhonex Kipruto as well as Athletics Kenya athlete's representative, Milkah Chemos who is a former 3000m steeplechase world champion.

"You will recall that as we build up towards the Olympics, one of the key areas of concern and attention besides qualifications was the issue of anti-doping and the need to meet all the regulation protocol codes in place," Kioni, who is also the Kenya Volleyball Federation president said.

"This matter continues to remain as a huge challenge for us all in our sports sector, particularly athletics, which we must address as a matter of urgency and ruthlessly. What is not in doubt, and I am pleased with the visible efforts carried out by our Athletics Federation, especially in awareness campaigns, is that we do not condone doping in all its forms and character," Kioni, who is Team Kenya Chef de Mission to the Tokyo Olympics added.

"We want to walk into the global community of nations such as the Olympics tall, knowing that we are representing as we have always done, very credible and clean athletes for competition."

"The benefits of doping are short-lived, and the dangers may haunt you for life. NOC-K continues to work closely with ADAK and our affiliates to ensure that doping is a thing of the past," affirmed Kioni.

-Rugut on ADAK mission-

On his part, Rugut said that ADAK is keenly following the protocols that have been put in place by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ensure that sportsmen and women in the country are tested and not exposing either the person being tested or the agents into health risk as far as the COVID-19 measures are concerned.

"WADA continues to provide guidance on the best ways to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled sport globally. We are aware that some of the tests we are carrying out right now are out of competition and do not require any notice. Overall, we will continue doing our best so that we don't open a situation where athletes have an open window to use prohibited substances knowing that we might not have a test coming soon and in the process flout existing regulations," stated Rugut.

Rugut also spoke about the caliber of ADAK's personnel, saying; "We take our personnel (both in house and volunteers) through rigorous training. They are trained well... going through certification and e-certification regularly to ensure they adhere to international standards."

And with increasing incidents of Kenyan athletes being flagged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for whereabouts failures, Rugut called on the athletes to strictly adhere to the rules set-up to avoid being sanctioned.

"It is your responsibility as an athlete to ensure that your whereabouts are known and are updated."

Mandu weighed in on the whereabouts scenario, adding, "Athletes are allowed to use their coaches and managers to update their whereabouts. It is however important for them to be within their latest location within the declared one-hour slot."

Mandu, who was appointed to the WADA education committee, also highlighted some of the measures that ADAK is taking in its bid to ensure that the sporting fraternity is well versed with doping related issues.

"The purpose of anti-doping education is basically to prevent doping. We also are involved in information sharing especially those engaged in competition to deter them from doping. We use value-based education, especially for younger children aged 14 and below and urge them to compete clean," she revealed.

-Chemos' advise to athletes-

As a former athlete, who has been in the fore front fighting doping in Kenya, Chemos called upon athletes to view ADAK as a partner who is interested in their welfare.

"When you dope, you are not only tainting your name but your country's name as well. Athletes should run clean, win right and realize that their actions are bigger than them. I urge them not to fear expressing their views about the same and see ADAK as their partner who mean good for the sport," Chemos, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist opined.

Kipruto noted that he had been carrying out his training regime as usual, although he has had to make social distancing changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kipruto, who also stated that his eyes are firmly set on winning Kenya's first Olympic gold medal over 10000m since 1968 said, "I am keeping myself clean. My coaches have been proactive in making sure I share my whereabouts, follow a strict diet and avoid prohibited substances."

He further had this message for fellow athletes, "Athletes should stay focused, disciplined and true to themselves at all times. Train well, eat well, stay aware of anti-doping regulations and be genuine."

This was the latest in a series of webinars organized by NOC-K since the inaugural one held May 7, aimed at sharing vital information with sports personalities and federations at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled sporting activity globally.

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