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Athletics Kenya demands jail sentences and
loss of employment for all doping offenders

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is rooting for the implementation of stiffer penalties including jail sentences and dismissal from formal employment to athletes who fail doping tests.

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei has petitioned the country’s parliament to pass a law that will see any drug cheats go to prison and lose their other employment with Kenyan companies in what is seen as the bravest fight against the vice.

Speaking in Nairobi on Friday, Tuwei, who appeared before a parliamentary sports committee at the National Assembly, says banning the athletes alone was not enough punishment.

"Criminalize doping in the country," Tuwei told Members of Parliament.

"The government should not employ any athlete who has been banned for doping offense because it is a criminal act."

Kenyan laws have imposed a fine of only 1,000 U.S. dollars for anyone found cheating, with a possible jail term for offenders.

But the country’s track and field body feels such a punishment is too lenient and must be revised.

Kenya and Ethiopia head a list of nations categorized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as being the most at risk of having its athletes engage in doping.

They are joined by Belarus and Ukraine.

Athletes from these Federations selected to compete in major events will have to undergo at least three out-of-competition doping tests in the ten months before a World Championships or Olympic Games.

Currently, over 50 athletes from Kenya have been reprimanded and are serving their ban notice for cheating, with the most famous being former three-time Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo and Jemimah Sumgong, winner of the Marathon gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Former world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop is also on the list, but has appealed the verdict saying he was not given a hearing. His case is yet to be settled.

Others include world 800m bronze medalist Kipyegon Bett, who tested positive for the banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) in August.

This year alone, those who have been nabbed include Milan Marathon champion Lucy Kabuu, and Athens Marathon winner Samuel Kalalei.

Ukraine and Belarus too have long been dogged by accusations of widespread doping, while in Ethiopia, doping products are reportedly easily available in the capital Addis Ababa.

Tuwei said Athletics Kenya will be taking the war against doping a notch higher by intensifying the sensitization program down to grassroots level.

"The federation has been involved in anti-doping education activities throughout the year to educate athletes, coaches, officials and all athlete support personnel on the dangers of doping.

"We have introduced Anti-doping Day which we will celebrate on November 9 in Elgeyo Markwet," said Tuwei.


Kenya cancels international one-day athletics meeting

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has shelved plans to reintroduce the Tusker Night of Fame, a one-day international athletics meeting in Nairobi equivalent to the Diamond League.

The meeting, which was last held in 2014, was due to return this year, but with Athletics Kenya (AK) yet to secure a financier, AK vice president Paul Mutwii said on Thursday it was unattainable.

The one-day meeting costs about two million U.S. dollars to organize and provide the required prize money.

Kenya is hopeful that global athletics governing body IAAF will have one leg of its lucrative Diamond League in Nairobi soon.

The only African venue to form part of the Diamond League is Rabat, which was incorporated last year.

The other 13 legs are in Asia, the USA and Europe.

Speaking in Nairobi after he released the track and field calendar of events, Mutwii said the focus for next season will be on the World Cross Country Championships in Denmark and the World Athletics Championships in Qatar.

"We have only four cross country meetings in the calendar.

"There will be no international one-day meeting in Nairobi and we want to focus on the World Cross Country and World Athletics Championships," he said.

At the same time, AK will organize a conference for top athletes in order to educate them on the latest anti-doping trends.

"We shall form a committee that will come up with the logistics of the conference where AK will take care of all the expenses for the participants," said Mutwii.

Kenya will also shift its national trials for the World Cross Country Championships and World Relay Championships from Nairobi to Eldoret in April, in order to encourage foreign athletes training in the country to compete with and help push Kenyans to secure qualification times.

A number of American, European and Chinese athletes have pitched camp in Eldoret to exploit the high altitude training ahead of the World Championships next year.

Kenya’s cross country season will start this month, in line with its elite runners heading to Europe to compete in European Permit meetings.

This year, there will be five races with another four in January.

The IAAF cross country permit series starts on November 11 in Burgos, Spain, and has two more races in 2018.

The rest of the seven competitions will be held in 2019 across Portugal, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Germany.

The European highlight will be the continental cross country championships in the Dutch city of Tilburg on December 9, with the World Championships taking place in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30.


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