Kenyan athletes now want the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to help the country scale up the war against doping by heightening surveillance and changing the approach in fighting the menace.
The country’s top athletes led by Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge on Tuesday evening told the visiting head of AIU Brett Clothier that Athletics Kenya (AK) and the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) have not been successful in the fight against the use of banned substances among athletes.
Clothier has been in the country since Monday and began discussions with athletes and authorities in the North Rift, one of the world’s famous bedrock of racing talents on Tuesday.
In a candid interactive session at the Lobo Village in Eldoret, Kipchoge said AK and ADAK had failed in running a successful anti-doping campaign in Kenya and asked the two bodies to start educating sportsmen and women on the integrity of the sport.
The athletes said anti-doping seminars had turned to sessions where athletes are warned, and not taught about the integrity of the sport.
Kipchoge, double 1500m Olympic Champion Faith Kipyego, former world javelin champion Julius Yego, former Commonwealth and world junior 5000m champion Augustine Choge, 5000m Olympian Nicholas Kimeli and former World Under-20 3000m steeplechase champion Amos Serem were among at least 25 Kenyan athletes who graced the interactive session.
The double Olympic marathon champion (Kipchoge) candidly told the AIU CEO that coaches had been left out in anti-doping seminars, yet they were critical in the careers of athletes.
He said the root causes of doping, including pressure from coaches and spouses on athletes to make more money and live lavish lives, were not being addressed in Kenya’s anti-doping war.
“Coaches are talking about money while male athletes are under pressure to bring more money. The danger is within us. AK should tell athletes who don’t want integrity to quit the sport. Let us respect the sport,” Kipchoge said at the forum.
The world’s fastest marathon asked AK to take annual anti-doping seminars seriously and start teaching young athletes values of the sport and humanity.
He also turned the heat on a section of fellow athletes, who he accused of excessively consuming alcohol, spending nights in clubs and still expecting to win in major competitions.
According to Kipchoge, erosion of morals and desire for expensive cars and properties has driven athletes into doping as they eye cash to sustain expensive lifestyles.
“There should be seminars for coaches, and let us have trainers who have passion and value the sport, and not those who only speak about money in camps. Many athletes don’t want to be themselves. Everyone is talking about competing in an Asian country where they are not caught.
“Others say Eliud (Kipchoge) has been running for 20 years and asking how that happens naturally. Next time during the seminars, teach them (athletes) to value the sport. They are taking home nothing from your seminars. They come because they fear the federation, and so that they get allowances,” he explained.