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Task force may stop Inquiry: Anti-doping probe committee runs out of money

WEIRD NEWS
By - GILBERT WANDERA | February 4th 2014

By GILBERT WANDERA

Mathew Kisorio (left) with other competitors during a past New York Marathon. Kisorio is currently serving a two-year ban for failing a dope test. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

The task force appointed to investigate the rise in doping cases in the country is broke and unable to clear its work as mandated by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario.

The 12-member committee, which was appointed last year and is headed by Moni Wekesa, has barely covered half its work before exhausting the Sh4.5million allocated to carry out is mandate.

The committee wants another Sh18 million to be able to finish its work and hand in a report. Wario named the committee in November in the wake of reports that Kenya sportsmen and women were openly involved in doping.

Prof Wekesa said yesterday that efforts to get more money from the Government were proving futile and the committee may have to abandon its work all together.

“Our mandate was to last 60 days – expiring on January 11 –  but we have done just 23 days and presented a preliminary report to the Government. We have also asked them to release more money to us so we can complete the remaining work.

“So far, we have managed to have two meetings with the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports but he has categorically stated that there is no more money for us. Without increasing our financial allocation it will be almost impossible to go on with the work,” Wekesa said.

He said the initial money given to them by the Government was inadequate as it did not factor in the current costs  of travel, accommodation and hiring of facilities.

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“Some of the costs have shot up sharply and so whatever the Government budgeted for us was inadequate. We had expressed these sentiments to them before we began working,” said Wekesa.

In 2012, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) asked Kenya to investigate such cases after an undercover German television journalist reported that the blood-boosting drug EPO and other doping products were readily available to local athletes.

But it took almost a year before the Government responded, perhaps after realising that the country was to be discussed for dragging its feet during a Wada conference in Johannesburg in November.

Wekesa said the consequences of not finishing the work will be grave, especially for local athletes.

“The whole world is waiting for this report because in it we are supposed to make recommendations on how to stop the vice if indeed it exists. Without it, local athletes are likely to be locked out of major international events,” he added.

The committee was supposed to continue sitting yesterday, when top federations officials were scheduled to appear before it. But the committee had to cancel the exercise.

Wekesa at the same time revealed that the task force has interviewed 106 people during sittings held in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Kapsabet, Iten and Mombasa.

Among those interviewed, he confirmed, were two athletes who are currently suspended after failing dope tests.

“Furthermore, we have carried out research on 918 active athletes by taking a sample of some of the substances they use. We have sent these to the laboratories and are waiting for the results.

“Our target is to sample 2,000 athletes. We also have names of people suspected to be giving athletes drugs and are planning to interview them,” said Wekesa.

Efforts to contact Mr Wario proved futile as he failed to pick his phone or reply to short text messages sent to him. Neither could we reach Sports Principal Secretary Patrick Omutia to comment on the matter.

Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch said: “We gave the committee what we thought was adequate to cover their work and advised them to work within that budget.”

              — [email protected]

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