Pharmacists in the North Rift region want to be involved in the fight against doping, a menace that has put Kenya’s reputation in athletics on the line.
The pharmacists, through the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, just like the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisonous Board (KMPDU), should be recognised as a central stakeholder in anti-doping.
They said they were a crucial link in the war against doping, and lamented that they were being sidelined yet they dispense medicine which might contain banned substances, to sportsmen and women in pharmaceutical outlets.
Their complaints come in the wake of rising cases of doping, resulting in suspensions and bans by the Athletics Integrity Unit.
Olympian and former world youth champion Lilian Kasait is the latest to be punished for testing positive for a banned substance.
Kasait, a 5,000m athlete who represented Kenya at the Tokyo Olympics, is alleged to have tested positive for letrozole, a substance found in medicine used for treating and preventing breast cancer.
Recently, two of the country’s top marathoners – Lawrence Cherono and Philemon Kacheran were provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned substances, as they prepared to fly the Kenyan flag at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games respectively.
Other athletes who have been provisionally banned are: Mark Otieno Odhiambo who is alleged to have tested positive for Methasterone, Vane Nyaboke Nyanamba (banned for testing positive for Norandrosterone), Tabitha Gichia Wambui (Norandrosterone) and Eglay Nafuna Nalyanya (Norandrosterone).
The society led by North Rift Secretary General Henry Amdany blamed ignorance on the side of athletes, and failure by state agencies in eliminating quack pharmacists ‘carelessly’ dispensing medicine.
Robert Saina, a specialist clinical pharmacist at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital asked the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) to incorporate them in its anti-doping campaigns.
“We are looking forward to working with Adak in the fight against doping. Adak has been running anti-doping sensitization campaigns while sidelining pharmacists. On our side, what we want is a long standing partnership with the agency,” Saina said in Eldoret.
He continued: “We are operating in a region that has the highest number of athletes in the country. We have noted that ignorance among our athletes is a matter of concern and our reputation at the global stage is at stake.”
Saina said a number of pharmaceuticals sold over the counter in several private facilities could be containing steroids that are banned by the World Anti-doping Agency.
North Rift PSK treasurer Daniel Demusic said pharmacists were ready to be part of the fight against unlicensed pharmacists selling drugs containing banned substances to athletes.
Demusic said that there were quacks running the pharmaceutical sector, who did not care about the effect of certain drugs on sportsmen and women.
“We are coming hard on the quacks and we are going to be firm, working closely with stakeholders such as KMPDU, county governments and Adak,” he said.
He added: “The pharmacist knows the use of clinical drugs and can advise on how to manage dosage. We are better placed to help our athletes. It is unfortunate that we have pharmacists but we are not utilizing their expertise.”