Kenyan Athletes Caught Doping
When you think of doping, it doesn’t take long for the name of Lance Armstrong to pop up. But when the name is at home, like Rita Jeptoo then you have to wake up and wonder what is going on? Since when do Kenyan athletes need extra power to conquer the tracks?
Rita Jeptoo was caught doping in October 2014. She has been the Boston and Chicago Marathons champion for the last two years and was found to be taking a blood boosting hormone EPO. After investigation her team was also questioned and found to have colluded in obtaining this drug. Rita has faced one hearing and is waiting for the next, which is about two weeks due from now. She is going to face a ban, but it is not clear for how long, two or four years?
This doping scandal has created worldwide buzz for sometime and even the Athletics Kenya is worried that their image is tainted with the fact that “Kenyans are using substances to enhance their track performance”. Already the Minister for Sports and Culture Dr Hassan Wario has taken a firm stand and demanded the resignation of the Athletics Kenya officials under whose watch this menace has happened.
Rita is not the first name in a doping scandal, the famous Bernard Lagat was tested positive for the same drug EPO in 2003. But the IAAF officials publicly declared he was negative after another sample and cleared him to compete. The Athletics Kenya Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat has blamed the vice of foreign agents, coaches and doctors and proposed a lifetime ban. There had been no set up within the Athletics Kenya to educate or monitor drug testing, and when in November 2013 a facility and committee were set up to tackle this problem, it ran out of money and collapsed. It was rescued by the Government in 2014, but how effective is it, or will be? Time will tell.
Kenyan athletes are facing numerous pressure at home I believe than at foreign races. The race is here, right at home, to feed children, to run a family, to build a life, to succeed. There is rampant jealousy amongst the athletes and further investigation and transparency is very important from Athletics Kenya. Many foreign athletes come to Kenya’s training camp to improve their track skills and one famous example is British runner Mo Farah. If Mo can come and take lessons and pride in learning from the excellent Kenyan runners, then our athletes need to respect their talent more.
Why does this all bother me? If anything Kenya stands proudly at every Olympics, Marathon, Runs, you name it and our flag flies high, but with this dark shadow, there will always remain a doubt. Are these athletes as magical as they have been all this time? Is there some kind of peer pressure going on to force them to behave like this? I haven’t asked Athletics Kenya because I want to believe that Kenyan talent is nurtured with respect and is drug free. But if Rita Jeptoo is the start to a domino effect, then we better watch out.