NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s athletics team, which departs on Monday
for the Africa Championships in Nigeria, must shake off the
doping scandal that has plagued its athletes and prove to the
continent that it can win clean. Last week, there was
apprehension in the team’s camp when Boniface Mweresa, who
finished fifth in the 2016 World Indoor championships in the
400m, was reported to have failed a drugs test.
Mweresa was meant to
compete at the Africa Championships, but has since been kicked
out of the team. His predicament will however, haunt Kenya even
as the IAAF has placed the country among the top four nations
where doping is an ongoing concern. Kenya has been pooled
alongside Ethiopia, Belarus and Ukraine as countries with a
“high potential” for doping.
Mweresa held his
ground saying he is innocent. “I have been using a supplement
called ‘Yeah Buddy’ and I declared it on the anti-doping forms.
[The] Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) summoned me on Monday
(last week) and told me that I had used some banned substance,
warning me not to compete until the case is over,” he said.
Athletics Kenya (AK)
executive member, Barnaba Korir, says the selected athletes must
only focus on winning in Nigeria. “We are doing everything to
contain this vice. The new IAAF rules will enable AK to work
hand in hand with the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), ADAK and
Wada,” added Korir.
Head coach Stephen
Mwaniki believes the team must rise above such negativity to
stamp its authority on the continent and qualify as many
athletes as possible to the IAAF Continental Cup, which will be
held in Ostrava in the Czech Republic from Sept 18-19.
team consists of the world record holder in the women’s 3000m
steeplechase Beatrice Chepkoech; reigning world champions
Conseslus Kipruto (3000m steeplechase) and Elijah Manangoi
(1500m); former world champions Julius Yego (javelin), Eunice
Sum (800m) and Nicholas Bett (400m hurdles), and current world
leaders Emmanuel Korir (800m), Timothy Cheruiyot (1500m) and
Hellen Obiri (5000m).