WADA Taskforce Clears Kenya Of Systematic Doping

Sep 27 - by Mutwiri Mutuota for SportPesa News

Findings of a deep report to the vice that has disgraced the country's athletes establishes nandrolone, EPO are the prevalent banned substances among drug cheats, local chemists, medics fuel the vice

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President, Craig Reedie, addresses the assembly at the opening of the 2018 edition of the WADA Annual Symposium in Lausanne. PHOTO/AFP

  • It established athletes in Kenya are insufficiently educated on doping and/or wilfully blind as to the consequences of doping 
  • The report is culmination of a probe that was commissioned in December 2016 of a full-scale investigation, known as the Kenya Project, into widespread doping in the East African nation
  • WADA and the AIU set up the project, which was focused primarily on distance running, with the view to developing a multi-stakeholder network equipped to tackle the problem.

NAIROBI, Kenya- There is no institutionalised doping in Kenyan athletics with the spread of the vice that has seen the country’s distance running tradition come into question is unsophisticated, opportunistic, and uncoordinated.

This was the highlight of the six conclusions from the Kenya Project taskforce on status of doping report delivered on Thursday evening in Nairobi by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that partnered with Athletics Integrity Unit of the IAAF and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) in an investigation of the menace.

It came after a two-day meeting in the Kenyan capital where the WADA Intelligence and Investigations Department announced the findings of the probe that banned substances- nandrolone and blood booster EPO- were the preferred banned substances of choice for local drug cheats.

It established athletes in Kenya are insufficiently educated on doping and/or wilfully blind as to the consequences of doping while the role of local medical practitioners and quasi-medical personnel (such as chemists) is highly relevant to the accessibility of prohibited substances to athletes and their entourages.

Other key findings were that some local medical practitioners and quasi-medical personnel are unaware and/or wilfully blind to their role in facilitating the access of athletes and their entourage to prohibited substances.

The sixth summary outcome established that the benefits of the “substantial assistance” provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) are vastly underutilized by local athletes caught for doping.

The report is culmination of a probe that was commissioned in December 2016 of a full-scale investigation, known as the Kenya Project, into widespread doping in the East African nation, as revealed by whistle-blowers and media reports.

Distance running

WADA and the AIU set up the project, which was focused primarily on distance running, with the view to developing a multi-stakeholder network equipped to tackle the problem.

This week’s meeting was an opportunity to bring together all stakeholders for the first time for discussions while also affording WADA investigators the opportunity to update them on progress made to date.

The project’s objectives were twofold: firstly, to understand the doping practices of Kenyan athletes with the view to identifying those involved, at all levels; and secondly, to develop a multi-stakeholder network to better tackle Kenyan doping.

The main targets of the investigation were elite and sub-elite distance runners residing or training in Kenya and competing internationally besides associated coaches, support staff, chaperones, doctors and ancillary medical staff as well as sporting officials (where there was a credible link to corruption or other serious crime).

In attendance at the meeting this week were representatives from Athletics Kenya, the Kenyan Ministry of Sports, the Kenyan Pharmacy and Poisons Board, the Kenyan Sports Disputes Tribunal, local law enforcement, INTERPOL, the Africa Zone V Regional Anti-Doping Organization and a number of interested National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs).

The NADOs present included those from Norway and the United Kingdom, which have been helping ADAK build its infrastructure and have previous experience dealing with cases involving Kenyan athletes. Importantly, this was the first time these groups had met in one place to discuss doping in Kenya.

WADA Director of Intelligence and Investigations Gunter Younger said: “We take the doping practices in Kenya very seriously and have been working hard to identify their extent and nature in Kenyan athletics as well as trying to work out the best possible response.

“A meeting such as this, which includes all parties involved in that response, is a very important next step. We believe that a strong, unified, multi-stakeholder approach is key to advancing clean sport in Kenya.”

He added: “Doping in the country is different from other doping structures discovered elsewhere in the world and, as such, it requires a different approach. What we have determined is that doping in Kenya is not sophisticated or organized and does not appear to be institutionalized.

Prolonged solution

“What is needed is a multi-pronged solution. That is why in response to the issues discovered, we have established a network led by AIU and ADAK that will collaborate, educate, investigate and prosecute cases. The project itself is now concluded but really the work is just beginning.”

“If our recommendations are implemented, Kenya Project will have led to better education of athletes and medical practitioners, a greater investigative capacity for ADAK, an active whistle blower network and, ultimately, a stronger anti-doping program in Kenya.

“ADAK cannot do this on its own. It will take the full cooperation and involvement of a range of other groups, including law enforcement, athletes and their representatives, government bodies and Athletics Kenya,” he emphasised.

"We thank WADA’s I and I team for launching this project and bringing it forward to this important milestone. Kenya is a great and justly proud athletics nation, but it now has a serious doping problem.

“The reasons for this are complex and there are no easy solutions but the AIU is dedicated to working with our partners in Kenya and improving the situation,” Head of the AIU Brett Clothier underscored.

“Currently, Kenyan athletes make up 22 per cent of the AIU out-of-competition testing program and at least the equivalent amount of time in our investigations and intelligence team. The AIU funded the establishment of a new blood laboratory in Nairobi. We are putting a lot of time and resources into anti-doping in Kenya,” the AIU chief stressed.

Speaking at the function, CEO of ADAK Japhter Rugut said: “Kenya is privileged to be the world’s first country to host this kind of forum and this strengthens our position as a sporting powerhouse.

“In addition, we believe in concerted effort in the fight against doping and it is for this reason that we welcome our partners to share with us how well we can cooperate in the sensitive area of intelligence and investigations to ensure that we promote clean sport.”

Kayange advice

Among those present to ensure the athletes were represented and heard at the meeting was Chair of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya’s Athletes Commission and former international rugby player Humphrey Kayange.

Kayange, who is also a biochemist, said: “This is an important day for clean sport in Kenya and it is great to see the level of cooperation that already exists between the key stakeholders. In the first instance, we need to ramp up the education of athletes and their entourages so that ignorance and willful neglect of responsibilities are reduced.

“It is great that athletes’ voices are being heard in this process and we advocate the setting up of improved testing and investigating procedures in Kenya so that those who choose to cheat are caught and brought to justice. Clean athletes deserve to know they are competing on a level playing field.”

The findings mean WADA and the IAAF who placed Kenya under the doping watch list will not take similar action of a blanket international ban on the country’s athletes in the example of Russia where State involvement in systematic doping was established.

WADA recently called for the lifting of international sanctions on Russian athletes in a move that drew protests with IAAF declining to welcome them back to the fold stressing they had to fulfil stringent conditions.

Russia has petitioned the Court for Arbitration for Sport to challenge the world athletics governing body’s decision to maintain their isolation from international competition.

Olympic champion, Jemimah Sumgong and two-time World Cross country winner, Emily Chebet as well as disgraced female marathon star, Rita Jeptoo are among the renowned Kenyan athletes who have served doping bans in the recent past.

-Material from WADA website www.wada-ama.org formed the foundation of this report