Doping allegations should not hold back Team Kenya in Doha

Sports CS Amina Mohamed at Kasarani Stadium handing-over flag to Kenya team heading to Doha for World Championship. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

IAAF World Athletics Championships begin today in Qatar, with Kenya, making her 17th appearance, seeking to increase gold medal tally that stands at 55 since the games' inception in 1983 in Helsinki, Finland. Kenya's medal haul is only bettered by US (156 gold). Germany has 36, Jamaica (32) and Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 28 gold medals.

This is an enviable medal harvest because it firmly places Kenya on an elite league of global sporting powerhouses. For this reason, Kenyans will be glued on television sets to cheer on their heroes and heroines as they take on the world inside Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

It is the hope of the entire nation that Athletics Kenya has presented before the world a team that will not only win medals, but also compete clean for this is the essence of sportsmanship.

It is an open secret that some of our athletes have used unscrupulous means, by way of banned drugs, to win races. While it is not a uniquely Kenyan problem, it behooves our athletics authorities to ensure bad apples do not soil the names of honest athletes who toil and sweat profusely in defence of our national flag.

It is for this reason that the country takes with a pinch of salt allegations by a German media outlet that two of Kenya's athletes to the IAAF Doha Worlds have been injected with EPO.

To their credit, AK have said they have had to sacrifice some of the athletes not because they doped, but for not complying with strict Athletics Integrity Unit regulations of honouring three out of competition and one in-competition tests to be able to participate at Doha games.

It is for this reason that Kenya opted not to take to Doha the maximum three athletes in men's 5000m despite qualifying during the National Trials at Nyayo Stadium on September 12. AK also gave up on fielding a female athlete in 800m because of issues relating to disorders of sex development. This is commendable.

However, this is not to say AK waves away the allegations by the German media outlet. They (AK) must pursue the matter to logical conclusion if only to lay bare the facts that would shame Kenya's accusers.

Meanwhile, AK has the tough task of working at full throttle to replace aging stars to ensure we are not knocked off our perch. Our dominance in men's steeplechase is facing serious threat from Ethiopia, Morocco and lately the US.

For now, let us sit back, cheer and enjoy what Team Kenya has to serve up.