AK: Elite athletes to be cleared by doctors to stem doping
Elite Kenyan athletes are now required to get clearance from the Kenyan Doctors Network (KDN) to represent the country at international competition.
This is one of the strict measures taken by Athletics Kenya (AK) in an effort to ensure the country is removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) watch list in the wake of the spike in doping cases that threatened an international ban last year.
Also Read: Posts land Kenyan-born US runners in hot Twitter soup
Kenya first got into the watch list last year after being spared an Olympics ban with WADA extending to 2017.
Speaking in Riadha House in Nairobi on Tuesday AK President retired Lieutenant General Jackson Tuwei presented to the media a list of 109 elite runners who shall be required to get clearance from KDN to feature in races abroad.
Curiously, convicted drug cheat, Rita Jeptoo whose ban was extended to four years following an appeal by world body IAAF against the initial two-year suspension by AK late last year appears on the elite list.
“It is in this regard that we have worked on an action plan with IAAF to deal with the utmost importance and priority levels in order to confine the actual doping epidemic in the country.
“This plan is such that a first sample of trusted and skilled Kenyan doctors has been identified to form the KDN. Their responsibility is to take care of Kenyan top-level runners and limit bad medical practices and doping promotion behaviours by some Kenyan health professionals,” Tuwei said in his address.
“We have also drafted some regulatory grounds making it mandatory for these elite athletes to go through this network and only through this network. Any failure to comply will result in impossibility for the athlete to represent Kenya in international competitions.
“We are inviting all these athletes for a briefing in Eldoret at the Pearl Hotel at 10am this Monday (16). It is important that they all attend.
“These new regulations will come into effect from January 17 and be fully operational from 23rd January 2017. We therefore ask the athletes, coaches, officials, managers and health professionals to follow this strictly.
“A co-ordinated communication plan has been put in place through all available channels including our website to make sure the information gets to all concerned and copy to IAAF. A strong and sustainable involvement of ADAK is important for us to achieve good results.” Tuwei told in AK’s first media briefing of the year,” the former Army chief stressed.
In addition to KDN the athletics boss also launched the Integrity Unit within AK that will be fully operational April 3rd with a budget of Ksh 82m (USD8.2m) in line with the reforms unanimously voted for by the IAAF Council in Monaco in November.
The Unit consist of Independent Governance Board, Independent Review Panels and Independent Staff.
“They will manage the anti-doping and other integrity related programmes in elite athletics, including assuming responsibility for education and testing and for the investigation and prosecution of breaches of the integrity code of conduct by international-level athletes and their Athlete Support Personnel,” Tuwei asserted.
“A new Independent Disciplinary Tribunal will be established as part of the Athletics Integrity Unit to hear and decide all breaches, and impose sanctions, under the integrity code of conduct. So there is ‘One Code One Tribunal,” he added.
Tuwei also urged athletes and the support personnel to read and adhere to 2017 prohibited list by WADA that became effective from January 1 as he called on Kenyans to take advantage of the IAAF’s Intelligence based testing that is secure and confidential to whistle blowers to report doping.
“We strongly encourage all to be aware of the changes which have been made by WADA. Use resources available to check whether medications are permitted or prohibited. Should anybody require further assistance, in clarifying the list or have outstanding questions, please contact us.
“In addition to this information, IAAF has provided a short summary of key additions and clarifications to the list in 2017 which athletes should be aware of. This information should not replace the need to access or refer to the full-prohibited list,” the AK boss underscored.
Kenya was plunged into a doping crisis that led the country to fall foul of WADA when positive doping cases spiked to over 40 between 2012 and 2015.
It necessitated the enactment of law to outlaw the vice last year as the Government scrambled to avoid an Olympics ban that was averted only a month into the Rio Games where Kenya brought home its best performance.