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SPORTS

Dilemma surrounds comebacks from doping bans

Ferdinand Omanyala [File, Standard]

With the ever increasing anti-doping violations among Kenyan athletes, it now remains a riddle on whether or not Athletics Kenya would reverse their decision.

AK and Ministry of Sports have always maintained that all athletes who were either sanctioned or served bans, will not represent the country in any championships at all levels.

Most of the affected Kenya athletes were handed bans for missing tests, failing to update their whereabouts while others tested positive to banned substances.

Former world 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi, two-time London Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang and former world 800m champion Alfred Kipketer are among top athletes who missed dope tests.

World 800m bronze medallist Kipyegon Bett is serving a two-year ban while three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, who has denied doping, will get back to action in February next year.

But their dream to compete for the country now hangs in a balance.

On Tuesday, sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala posted 10.1 seconds –which would be an unofficial national record – at the ongoing MoC Grand Prix in Lagos, Nigeria. 

If Athletics Kenya ratifies the mark, Omanyala would eclipse Mark Otieno’s national record of 10.04 set in 2017.

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei (left ) flanked by Paul Mutwii addressing a past press conference. [PHOTO: DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

Paul Mutwii, the AK director of competitions, said the federation will not relent on their stand.

“We have commented on the matter so many times and the position remains the same; that any athlete who has served a doping ban will not wear the national colours. But they can compete in invitational meetings individuals," said Mutwii.  

“This is not AK concern only. The Government, through Ministry of Sports, has backed our stand on the athletes who have violated doping regulations and we will not welcome them into the national team.”

In 2019, Omanyala sued AK at the Sports Dispute Tribunal (SDT) following the federation’s policy to ban any athlete found to have violated anti-doping rules, from representing the country in any domestic and/or international competitions, and from participating in any athletic events organised by the respondent or its affiliates.

On its ruling, Sports Dispute Tribunal ruled thus: “The resolution passed by the AK’s AGM on April 25, 2019 banning all athlete found to be/to have been in violation of anti-doping rules from representing the country in global athletic events is declared invalid due to contravention of the procedural rules for convening an AGM of the Respondent."

SDT chaired by John Ohaga further said; “Banning all athletes found to be/to have been in violation of anti-doping rules from representing the country in global athletic events does not distinguish between intentional and unintentional doping violations, it is invalid.”

In 1999, the Court of Appeal ordered Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (now Athletics Kenya), the National Olympic Steering Committee and National Olympic Committee -Kenya to reinstate Eric Keter, who had been dropped from Olympic team to Sydney Olympics.

With the developments, AK also faced another blow when it was revealed that two-time Boston marathon champion Moses Tanui had sued them because he too had been left out of the team.

He was reinstated into the national team.

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