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Don't impose blanket ban on Kenyan athletes

Kenya has taken important steps in the fight against doping. [iStockphoto]

Kenya stares at a ban from international competitions because of violation of anti-doping rules among her athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, Athletics Integrity Unit and World Athletics will meet tomorrow in Monte Carlo, Monaco, to review the state of doping cases across the globe with the Kenyan situation at the centre-stage.

More than 200 Kenyan athletes have been sanctioned since 1988 when the first doping case involving a Kenyan was reported. But we have recorded the highest number, including of high-profile athletes testing positive for banned substances, this year. A blanket ban on Kenya would adjudge all our athletes guilty. That would be grossly unfair.

While we condemn those who engage in the vice deliberately, we are grateful that there is no State-sponsored doping as happened in Russia.

Kenya has taken important steps in the fight against doping. In the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, while Kenya was on the verge of getting kicked out of international competitions, former President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Anti-Doping Act, which gave birth to the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya.

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 that contains higenamine, a dietary supplement to promote weight loss, which said to be a potential masking agent for other drugs. There is need to educate our young athletes about such potential pitfalls.

Should Kenya be suspended, we stand to lose more than Sh10 billion in shoe contracts, appearance fees, prize money and other undisclosed endorsements from races across the globe.

We understand that pressure is mounting from athletics member federations to have Kenya banned. We insist that the ban should target rogue individuals, and not all athletes, as majority of our sportspeople play by the rule book. A blanket ban would go against the principles of justice and fairness.