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DOPING TOPs AGENDA: Elite runners meet today in Machakos to brainstorm

WEIRD NEWS
By JONATHAN KOMEN | December 3rd 2014
Marathon world record holder and Professional Athletes Advancing Kenya (PAAK) President Wilson Kipsang addresses the press after officially opening the association's offices in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County. The president noted that the organization formed by athletes will fight for their rights, welfare, nurture, develop talents. With him is the associations Secretary General Gilbert Kiplom (Left, In suit and red tie). 12-09-2014. PHOTOS BY: KEVIN TUNOI

More than 600 members of the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) will hold a national conference at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos County today.

The elite athletes' meeting, dubbed 'okoa riadha' (save the sport), will have doping on its agenda, among other issues, and sets the stage for a series of nationwide meetings.

The move comes against a backdrop of doping claims against Kenyan athletes notwithstanding persistent management wrangles dogging AK national executive.

Last week, Paak, led by their spokesman and Cherangany MP Wesley Korir, gave AK top brass a two-week notice to patch up their differences and work towards development lest they will take over their role.

Other issues like media relations, financial investment, HIV/Aids and sports development will come up during the conference.

Paak President and immediate former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang, reigning world marathon record holder, Dennis Kimetto, alongside other professional speakers will headline the occasion.

Korir said: "Doping issues will top our agenda. We really want to educate our athletes on dope testing to avert the dangers we are witnessing at the moment. This is a sensitive issue that may put our sport in jeopardy."

He said the conference also forms part of Paak's familiarisation with most athletes since, "we want to tell them who we are and our plans for the sport."

Korir, who is the 2012 Boston Marathon winner, said they are still waiting for response from AK.

"We have written to them and hope they will act. We will push them on until they relent to our wishes to amend the AK Constitution. Imagine, athletes are only represented by one person (Athlete Representative) in the entire AK yet AK is nothing without athletes. It is a big shame.

"We want to see our involvement in voting. Over the years delegates have been comprised without consideration of athletes and time has come for athletes to vote for their leaders. We simply want to broaden democracy in athletics management," said Korir.

But a case restraining 14 Athletics Kenya regional chairmen from convening a special General Meeting comes up for hearing at the Milimani High Court on tomorrow.

Philip Muia, the Paak chairman in charge of Southern (Kitui, Machakos and Makueni), said the Government need to support the gesture in a bid to save the Kenyan sport, "that's slowly getting negative image across the globe."

"We expect our President (Kipsang) to give a talk on doping and public relations while other invited speakers will tackle the other areas. Our our preparations are complete," said Muia.

Meanwhile, more than 400 runners are expected at the inaugural Kalia 21km race at the traditional Makutano grounds in Kapenguria on Saturday.

Steeplechase coach Boniface Tiren, one of the organisers, said they expect a high turn out.

The race, which is used to spearhead peace efforts in the region, is sponsored by Safaricom, Kenya Seed, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Kenya Airports Authority; among others.

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