NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
A former Kenyan international athlete said on
Saturday that the number of the country’s runners returning
positive results for banned performance-enhancing substances has
stolen their fellow countrymen’s passion for the sport.
Julius Ndegwa, who
competed for the East African nation in the 800m and 1,500m,
told Xinhua that Kenyans are no longer sure whether the person
they are cheering is running clean or not.
“Gone are the days
when Kenyans were spell-bound in athletics and followed the
performance of their athletes across the world. Nowadays major
global wins go unheralded and unnoticed,” Ndegwa said.
“Of course not every
athlete is cheating. There are plenty of runners who are
training hard, running clean and winning by the sweat of their
brow,” Ndegwa, who is now an accomplished coach, added.
His comments come in
the wake of Olympic champions Asbel Kiprop and Kenyan-turned
Bahranian Ruth Jebet being in the list of 109 athletes facing
disciplinary action from the International Association of
Athletics Federations Athletes Integrity Unit (AIU) for alleged
Last year, the
Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong received a four-year
ban after she tested positive for banned substance EPO or
erythropoietin, which is used to boost the production of red
blood cells and encourage more oxygen flow in the body.
suspension, another marathon star, the former 2013 Boston
Marathon and Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo, faced the same
punishment in 2015 for using the same substance.
“It is as if Kenyan
athletes don’t care any more. The aura of invincibility has
since dissipated and a Kenyan win is nowadays not celebrated
like before,” Ndegwa said, adding that marathon has become a
doping ground because financial rewards are greatest there.
Over 40 Kenyan
athletes have received bans for using performance-enhancing
substances and pundits reiterate that the number is more likely
to go up going by the recent trend.
athletics is Kenya’s most successful sport yet an arena where it
is held hardly draws a sizeable crowd despite the fact that the
venues don’t charge for entry.
For years many
people gave Kenyan athletes the benefit of doubt when it came to
doping and cheating, but not anymore as one big name after
another enter the roll of shame.
“It makes you wonder
why the most talented athletes in the world who are born and
raised at altitude and already with an advantage over most
runners justify to themselves that it is okay to cheat,” Ndegwa