Kenyan sports fraternity endured the longest six days from Thursday to Wednesday, last week. The country was staring at a doping ban from international competitions. Luckily, it never came to pass after World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe ruled it out, saying Kenya had made impressive strides against doping.
We applaud the government’s decision to engage World Athletics and commit an additional Sh619 million annually to the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) to step up tests, investigations and bolster comprehensive programmes already in place.
Still, we are not out of the woods yet. There are fears that more doping cases could emerge. It is high time Adak embraces a wholesome approach to avert use of banned substances.
The agency should cast its net wider to include schools, training camps, medical training institutions, medical practitioners and other facilities in their outreach programmes.
They should publish handbooks that contain an updated list of all banned substances and share with all stakeholders. This will help reach out to majority of young and ignorant athletes and medical personnel, not familiar with the prohibited substances.
Indeed, more seminars are needed. Failing to update whereabouts is another big issue that must be addressed urgently. It is sad that many of our athletes have been flagged for whereabout failures this year. That aside, we are cognisant of the fact that not all who have been found guilty of doping, did so deliberately.
A case in point is Philip Kangogo. The marathoner was banned for using a traditional herb containing higenamine, a dietary supplement to promote weight loss, which is said to be a potential masking agent for other drugs. There is need to educate our young athletes on such potential pitfalls. We should also inculcate discipline among our Kenyan athletes to avoid greed and put emphasis on winning clean. This should start at the family level. It’s no secret that greed has driven some of our most talented athletes into doping.
Young athletes don’t want to train hard, but want to win easily. They want to take the wrong route to the top. We must move with speed to build trust among our competitors at the global stage and inspire the young generation.
As a country, we have taken important steps in the fight against doping. In the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, while we were on the verge of getting kicked out of international competitions, former President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Anti-Doping Act, which gave birth to Adak.
We feel it’s not yet celebration time, but a moment to learn from our doping ban escape!