Ghost of anti-doping rules haunt Kenyan athletes ahead of Olympics


Ghost of anti-doping rules haunt Kenyan athletes ahead of Olympics
Kamar Etyang crosses the finish line to come second men 1500m final during the Day 3 of 2020 Tokyo Olympic trials at the MISC, Kasarani on June 19, 2021/Sportpicha

In Summary

  • Kenya’s listing among category A of countries with high doping risk is once again proving to be a hurdle for some Kenyan athletes whenever a major championship beckons.
  • Countries ranked in Category A under  the World Athletics watch list have much tougher obligations to meet prior to a World Athletics Championships and the Olympic Games.
Chief athletics writer

Kenya’s listing among category A of countries with high doping risk is once again proving to be a hurdle for some Kenyan athletes whenever a major championship beckons.

Countries ranked in Category A under  the World Athletics watch list have much tougher obligations to meet prior to a World Athletics Championships and the Olympic Games.

According to Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) rule 15, an athlete selected to represent a country ranked in category A in a major championships is required to have undergone three out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) 10 months prior to the competition.

It further states that if an athlete competes in any of a middle distance event from 800m upwards, a long distance event, a combined event or a race walk event at least one Athlete Biological Passport test and one EPO test will be required.

The rule also states that the tests must have been conducted no less than three weeks apart.

And with just under three weeks to the start of Tokyo Games, 1500m athlete Kamar Etyang is reportedly yet to fulfil the anti-doping requirements.

Etyang made the cut in Kenya’s Olympic team when he placed second at the national trials held just over a fortnight ago alongside the winner Charles Simotwo and Abel Kipsang who placed third.

Taking to his Facebook page on Sunday, Etyang claimed that he is set to be withdrawn from the Kenyan team for the metric mile ahead of the Games.

“…they want to remove me from the team, yet the first top three to cross the finish line automatically qualified to go for the Tokyo Olympics. To be sincere, it is really breaking my heart…” Etyang said.

The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) mandated with handling the national teams for Olympic Games have since issued a statement insisting that Etyang has not been ejected from the residential training at Kasarani.

According to NOC-K president Paul Tergat, Etyang is still in  camp while the matters is being handled with his parent federation, Athletics Kenya, who conducted the trials.

“The athlete is currently in the residential bubble camp and continues to train. The specific matter is under very urgent investigation and action will be taken accordingly. Meanwhile, we are consulting with Athletics Kenya, the nominating authority of Team Kenya Athletics on the emerging matters,” said Tergat.

Newly elected national Olympic committe -Kenya (NOCK) Paul Tergat celebrates being declared winner during National Olympic Committee (NOCK) election held at Panari hotel in Nairobi Kenya on September 28, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

In a statement, General Team Manager for Tokyo Games, Barnaba Korir said Athletics Kenya is still following up the matter with the World Athletics.

“I want to confirm that we are in talks with the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to find a lasting solution on this matter. In the meantime, let us avoid speculation since Etyang is still in camp and we are still engaging AIU to consider such cases where youngsters who have not met anti-doping requirements crop up,” Korir said on his official Facebook page.

It is expected that world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot who ranked fourth at the trials will be named in the team if Etyang is not cleared to travel for Tokyo Games.

In 2019, Michael Kibet and Daniel Simiyu emerged first and second respectively in the 5,000m at the trials for World Championships, the duo however did not travel having failed to be cleared by World Athletics due to the same rules.

Meanwhile, US-based Moitalel Mpoke who was the sole Kenyan athlete in the 400m hurdles will not compete at the Olympics also due to anti-doping rules. Mpoke has however claimed he underwent all the three mandatory tests.

“I’m so sorry that I can’t compete at the Tokyo Olympics even though I have been preparing well despite all the challenges… I met the qualifying standard. I also went through the three tests as required and sent my results,” said Mpoke.

He added, “They claim they sent the World Anti-doping agency to my house. Nobody came since I was at my house preparing for my final exam and didn’t receive any call. I am very disappointed.”

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Story By Gilbert Kiprotich
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