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Doping scandal hangs over Kenyan
team ahead of Africa Championships

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.

Kenya’s star-studded 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).


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