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Bad blood between Kipsang and AK not good for our sport

ATHLETICS By Clay Muganda | July 6th 2020
Kenya's Wilson Kipsang crosses the finish line in the men's category of the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo on February 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

Kenya’s football fans are on cloud nine thanks to European leagues and are least bothered about the Kenyan Poverty League which is yet to restart after the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost every day, KPL’s officials talk about a restart, and the more they speak about it, the more confused they sound as they cannot even confirm whether the season ended legally or not since the matter is being contested in court.

I guess no one, more so themselves, are surprised because officials of Kenya’s footballing bodies have perfected the art of running to the courts of law and other arbitration bodies to seek solutions to the problems they have caused by not applying common sense.

And when that solution is given, one of the warring factions or sections will not agree to it, even when they are the ones who rushed to the judicial authority, and will seek help in another body or will employ an underhand process to undermine the decision.

It is a real rigmarole in Kenya’s football scene, and officials love it that way because it keeps them in office where they see to it that footballers suffer because they do not have a strong players’ body that can fight for them, the way it is with athletics, where things are also not so rosy if pronouncements by former World marathon recorder holder Wilson Kipsang are anything to go by.

Towards the end of last week, Kipsang was handed a four-year ban by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) that included using a fake photo of a traffic accident to justify one of four missed whereabouts appointments.

Of course, he is not taking it lying down, and is calling out AIU for racism and charging that the unit is targeting Kenyans because, well, we dominate, and what better way to stop us than ensuring that we do not participate in those competitions.

His statement that he is being targeted for whatever reason is not new. Any time Kenyan runners are fingered for doping or any doping-related violations, they always come out with some explanation, nay, excuse, and many a time, they are backed by the athletics federation which also smells a rat in the way doping bans are handed to Kenyans.

At times, even the State throws its weight behind them and says so many meaningless, unviable and laughable things like withdrawing from the International Olympics Committee.

Every now and then, Athletics Kenya (AK) talks passionately about doping, and urges Kenyan athletes not only compete clean, but also not to violate any of the anti-doping rules, some of which are now making Kipsang vent and blame all external forces, including AK.

The jury is still out there, but Kipsang’s charge that some of his woes are engineered by AK because he founded Professional Athletes Association of Kenya should not be taken lightly.

He is wounded, and is bound to see enemies all over the place, and blame everyone else except himself and his management team, but he should not be dismissed and needs to be given a chance to explain the source of his accusations.

AK have washed their hands off his woes, saying that “we did not play any role in anti-doping process.  Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and AIU collect samples and do the testing. So, we feature nowhere. We receive decisions from AIU just like him.”

It would be sacrilegious for AK to do something sinister to hurt the career of a long-standing athlete because of his different views, or because he is fighting for the rights and welfare of other athletes.

It would also be wrong for Kipsang, or any other athlete not to take responsibility for their acts of commission or omission and blame someone else, more so the athletics federation because that will demoralise younger athletes and make them avoid the federation.

Bad blood between athletes and AK will not produce any winners, and the biggest loser will be the country and its host of young athletes who are looking forward to conquering the world. Should the accusations and denials continue, or if it is true that AK is not sincere, then it would be worse than the footballing body whose mission is to see footballers wallowing in misery.

Of course, there is no Kenyan sports federation that wants to be lumped together with the poverty-worshiping footballing bodies. 

Muganda is an Editor at The Standard

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