Kenya athletes most tested, IAAF document reveals
The shock allegations that decorated middle distance runner Asbel Kiprop may have breached anti-doping rules lifts the lead on a worrying trend of doping in Kenya.
Doping controls document brought to the attention of The Standard newspaper by IAAF reveals Kenyans are the most tested athletes around the world.
The world athletics body refuted claims their samples had returned blanket adverse results.
The Standard newspaper reported on Monday that up to 363 athletes, 53 of whom are Kenyan returned adverse results. However, IAAF's Communications manager Yannis Nikolaou said the reports are "completely wrong."
"The information about the missing tests and the secret dossier is completely wrong... The numbers are corresponding to the doping controls that any athlete did and everything is available in the public domain at the IAAF.org," Nikolaou said.
Nikolaou added: "The statistics of athletes tested not in any way results.
IAAF does collect thousands of blood samples used to not only build up a database of intelligence but also to conduct target testing of athletes for EPO urine testing.
When allegations of widespread doping in athletics world first came out, IAAF rejected the accusations noting that, "the IAAF certainly does not deny that there is blood doping in its sport, but it does vehemently deny that it has 'idly sat by and let this happen'."
Kenya has 53 sportsmen and women among the 363 while Russia has the largest number of athletes with suspicious readings. Almost all of the athletes from Kenya, USA, Jamaica and Russian under the 4+ classification have served bans or are being investigated for doping.
Although the 4+ classification does not necessarily mean an athlete has doped, given that some athletes use banned substances for medical reasons, all banned Kenyan athletes are listed in the 4+ classification in the document.
The list contains multiple Olympic and world champions, some who command multi-million-dollar product endorsement deals.
Asbel Kiprop, a multiple world champion in 1500m, The Standard can confirm, is one such athlete among a stellar cast of Olympians across the world with a 4+ classification.
Some IAAF officials have in the past been accused of seeking bribes from affected athletes to conceal the adverse analytical findings.
Four former Athletics Kenya officials; the late Isaiah Kiplagat (AK president), Vice-President David Okeyo and ex-Treasurer Joseph Kinyua were suspended by the IAAF from the sport, for among other charges, accepting bribes to shield drug cheats from the full force of the anti-doping law.
Federation CEO Isaac Mwangi was later suspended on claims of soliciting bribes from two female sprinters who tested positive at the Beijing 2015 World Championships for reduced bans. Investigations by the Athletics Integrity Unit against Okeyo, Kinyua and Mwangi are ongoing.
Senior figures close to then IAAF president Lamine Diack have been accused of forcing former Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova to pay £360,000 (Sh48.8million) to conceal a positive drug test.
IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe, the man who took over from disgraced Lamine Diack in 2015 on a reform agenda, has also been criticised at home in Britain for 'misleading a parliamentary inquiry about the extent to which he was aware of Russian doping and corruption in athletics'.
A report by Britain's House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee criticises Coe for what appears to be wilful ignorance on the extent of doping in Russia.
"He sought to distance himself from any knowledge of the allegations of doping in Russian athletics before the details were exposed in a German TV documentary," the report reads.
The mind-blowing document names the who-is-who in the track and field world, raising fears the sport is on the brink of a precipice. Yet the IAAF has also been criticised for attempting to block the publication of several other independent reports on the extent of doping in athletics.
In September 2016, Dr Richard McLaren, the man who led a probe into Russia's state-sponsored doping, expressed fear over the misuse of Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) when he told the BBC that the system is 'open to abuse'.
A TUE allows an athlete to use a prohibited medication or procedure to treat a legitimate medical condition.
There is a set of strict criteria for an athlete to be granted permission to use prohibited substances, including that the athlete would suffer significant health problems without taking the substance.
In 2001, current 100m world champion Justin Gatlin was banned from international competition for two years after testing positive for amphetamines.
Gatlin appealed on the grounds that the positive test had been due to medication that he had been taking since his childhood, when he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. He was reinstated by the IAAF on appeal.
Gatlin was caught in another doping storm in 2006 when he tested positive for testosterone and served a four-year ban.
Curiously, in April last year, the IAAF reported that its database had been hacked by Russia's 'Fancy Bears' group and expressed fears that athletes' TUE data had been compromised.
These latest findings of high-profile athletes failing drug tests in and out of competition may yet confirm McLaren's fears – and Kenya may just have to deal with the unnerving truth that her big stars are not that clean.
"Kenyans are still in denial. It is time we faced this problem head on. Let us accept that there is a problem and agree on how to deal with it," said Athletics Kenya executive committee member Barnabas Korir.
"This one has hit us where it hurts most," Moses Kiptanui, a three-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion, told Reuters. "Marathon runners failing dope tests was almost becoming normal. But when it came to the 1,500m, we were shocked. More so, Asbel (Kiprop), whom many youths looked up to as a role model."
The IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) have a strict confidentiality code that spells out procedures of revealing athletes' identity whenever they fail drug tests.
The code aims at protecting the privacy and personal information of the athletes.
Wada's code has effectively made it almost impossible for investigative journalists, especially in Africa, to conduct their own independent inquiries into doping claims.
In Kenya, for instance, journalists are aware of how athletes use what are loosely called 'energy boosters'. Such information, however, would not see the light of day given the strict Wada code.
In an interview with the German TV channel ARD in 2012, Kenya's Matthew Kisorio, who was banned for three years, gave a long and detailed description of his blood doping and steroid regime, in which he blamed medical staff behind the system.
"I didn't run up to my standard during this year's Boston Marathon. To get my power of endurance up, he (a doctor) told me they will take care of it," Kisorio told a British newspaper at the time.
Kisorio would later retract the statements.
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