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Investigate claims of doping among athletes

By John Nandwa | November 27th 2013

By John Nandwa

Kenya: Nothing has brought pride and sense of national unity to Kenya than the collective performance of its athletes.

In the track and fields, athletes’ dominance has been so complete that their extraordinary achievements struggle to register any more.

But following claims by Mathew Kisorio that athletes are using illegal performance-enhancers, a dark cloud threatens to hang over the credibility of our sportsmen and women.

Indeed, besides Kisoro’s claims, more disturbing is the reluctance of the authorities to institute investigations over the claims. A year after the authorities vowed to investigate revelations by the ARD, German broadcaster that athletes were being supplied with banned substances in exchange for a percentage of their winnings, nothing seems to have taken place.

For this reason, Kenya has joined Jamaica on the list of countries the World Anti-Doping Agency is closely scrutinising after alarm bells were set off following an increase in athletes testing positive for banned substances.

Many will agree that it takes will to clean up a sport. The will to look in dark corners. More importantly, the will to not care what is found, to press ahead, no matter the consequences. That will seems to have deserted Kenyan athletics. Authorities seem worried about what could be found, who could be caught and at what cost.

There is good reason why the global athletics body has been alarmed. Since last year, 17 athletes have failed tests, compared with two between 2010 and 2012, and a task force to examine the extent of the problem, which was promised by the Kenyan authorities in October 2012, has yet to report back.

For this reason, it is easy to conclude that a certain fear has made our athletics chiefs to stop looking, testing and asking. The tragedy is that Kenyan athletics will pay a bigger price in tainted credibility.

When Mathew Kisorio told ARD that he took illegal drugs “because everyone told me, I wasn’t the only one, and none of the others got caught for doping”, one could see the good name of Kenyan athletes being easily surrendered. While it is clearly the case that most of those who tested positive were not elite athletes, it is equally obvious that those questions will not go away as long as nothing is done to disapprove them.

The only way for the government to demonstrate its commitment to the integrity of sport is to institute an investigation into these claims.

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