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Shortcut culture to blame for doping and buildings' collapse

Family member forage through the debris in bid to retrieve documents and other effects in Ruaka where a house collapsed on November 17, 2022. [George Njunge, Standard]

What do collapsed buildings and doping have in common – greed and shortcuts. Kenyan runners have recently been hit with sanctions over the use of prohibited substances that boost athletic performance. The Intelligence and Investigations Department of the World Anti-Doping Agencies, together with the Athlete Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of the Athletics Federation launched a project to examine the doping practices of Kenyan athletes.

The tests traced higher substance abuse in IC (In Competence) than OOC (Out of Competence) prohibited elements. This means that Kenyan athletes are more prone to substance abuse just prior to the competitions as opposed to indulgence during the training period.

It appears therefore that Kenyan athletes experience a greater urge to indulge in illegal substances right before a competition so as to boost their performance. The consequence is that Kenya’s reputation in athletics – which is the pride of our nation – is at risk. Eliud Kipchoge – Olympic champion and the men’s world marathon record holder – has urged athletes not to take shortcuts in order to achieve success in sport. Yet as we point fingers at our athletes, it is worth considering the root cause of this issue. It would appear that this could be a subset of a much broader challenge – the product of a shortcut culture that has permeated almost every sector of our society over the last few decades.

Kenyans have developed a very unfortunate culture that is totally obsessed with riches and success. It is driving many to take the shortest route to success. Many therefore take shortcuts to acquire success by whatever means possible – even if illegal. It is a culture in which success has become a matter of life and death, totally ignoring the principles for succeeding fairly. This culture seems to be driving our lives and shaping our behaviour in almost every sphere of life.

The building and construction sector has similarly experienced the menace of shortcuts. At least two multi-story buildings have collapsed in Nairobi and its environs, leading to the injury and death of several persons. Reports indicate that these buildings were poorly and speedily constructed, ignoring all applicable requirements for implementing such projects. It is plain that the owners or contractors of these buildings may have been focused on incurring the least expenses, and achieving the quickest construction, so as to maximise their profits.

Beyond the athletes and building developers, the shortcut drive is to be found in the education sector where cheating in exams has made supervision of national exams look like war – with heavy deployment of fully armed security personnel at all exam centres. We equally witnessed drama over the authenticity of education certificates during the clearance of those seeking elective offices in the last elections. Get-rich-quick schemes such as gambling, and pyramid schemes have also been on the increase – with many people losing millions to fraudsters. The chaos in our traffic is likewise a menace that finds its roots in our impatience, selfishness, and greed.

Yet, forcing life to give you a win is to squeeze life out of winning. No success is enjoyable if not attained legitimately. It gives you temporary pleasure and fulfilment but eventually turns round to haunt you – like the banned athletes, runaway contractors and developers, and victims of pyramid schemes have eventually found out.

What many of us do not realise is that losing is an integral part of winning. Many people who have left lasting legacies were those who were able to learn from failures. They were able to overcome impatience to eventually acquire a genuine win. Failures build your inner capacity and perfect your art of winning – while redefining what works for you. However, in the culture of shortcuts, the speed of acquiring success is the focus – no matter how evil it might be.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Therefore, obtaining a win while sticking to the rules of the game is the only true win.