Eldoret (Kenya): Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman Isaiah Kiplagat has said his country's track and road athletes are being unfairly targeted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because of the rapid strides made by his compatriots in the discipline.
"Why are we being victimised for our success? We have to appreciate that many reports have come out targeting our athletes. Doping exists in every sport in Kenya but because our athletes shine a lot by breaking world records every time, it has invited sharp focus," Kiplagat was quoted as saying by Xinhua Monday.
However, he did not deny the concerns raised by WADA and media reports which have confirmed that the vice is rife in the country.
"Most of our elite athletes compete around the globe and are subjected to numerous tests, both while in competition and outside. Our best athletes have all turned out negative and the few who have been caught pleaded their innocence and ignorance and were punished," he said.
"Let us not kill these athletes because we know many win clean without any performance enhancement drugs in their systems."
His statement comes after Kenya's sports minister Hassan Wario revealed a report of the Anti-Doping Task Force (ADTF) last week in which it said more was needed to be done to curb the vice and limit the freedom foreign agents enjoy to interact and influence their performances in the country.
"AK has failed in enlightening athletes at the grassroot level making them easy targets for manipulation. Most athletes who have doped, and especially in sophisticated ways, were assisted by a professional doctor, coaches or agent," Wario said.
"However, agents are the dark horses. The federation has also failed in encouraging local managers and agents to shun the vice and come up with counter measures."
Kiplagat also said it is important to suspend and ban those who even help athletes dope and withdraw their practicing licenses.
"Our athletes must also learn to trust our local coaches and agents. Believe in them and they will not take you astray. If they do, we have the power to ban and punish them. But most of you run to foreign agents and coaches and the results have seen you caught doping. Stop it and come out clean," he said.
Kenya will be sending a team of experts in doping to the Africa Anti-Doping Agency in Cape Town later this week for a tripartite meeting with Norway and China anti-doping agencies on how best to eradicate the problem.