Sad reality of Kenya’s runners who have been banned for doping but are injured

Wilson Kipsang from Kenya crosses on 13. [AFP]

Kenya is on the verge of being banned from international athletics competitions as a number of athletes become embroiled in doping scandals.

As the athletics world absorbs the rising number of Kenyan athletes being sanctioned for using banned substances, key stakeholders in the sports industry remain engaged in finger-pointing.

So far, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) has sanctioned 22 athletes whose names have yet to be released.

There are also another nine active cases amid claims that there have been conspiracies to hide the names of some drug scammers.

The main players – sports federations, sports ministries, athletes and medical professionals – all bear a fair share of the blame for the dirty doping business that has tarnished Kenya’s image since 1988 when the first Kenyan, Cosmas Ndeti, was banned for doping.

And as the matter continues to be investigated, today The Sunday Standard is able to unveil the list of drug scammers whose names have not been made public but have been sanctioned by Adak.

It includes Shieys Chepkosgei (from December 27, 2020 to December 5, 2022); Jedidah Wanjiru Karungu (December 20, 2018 to December 21, 2022); Bernard Kiplangat Kibilo (January 30, 2019 to January 30, 2023); Henry Kosgei (November 19, 2020 to November 20, 2024); Willy Kipkemoi Rotich (December 11, 2018 to December 12, 2022); Beatrice Jepkorir Rutto (June 5, 2021 to June 6, 2025); Joy Kemuma Loyce (October 13, 2020 to October 14, 2024); Purity Talam (February 12, 2022 to February 13, 2026); Wilson Mutua Maina (December 20, 2019 to December 21, 2023); Boniface Mbuvi Mwema (December 20, 2019 to December 21, 2023) and Joseph Mbatha (December 20, 2019 to December 21, 2023).

Banned for life

Others include Patrick Kipyegon Terer (four-year suspension effective February 24, 2020); Henry Cheruiyot Kosgei (banned for life effective February 4, 2021);
Alpha’s Leken Kishoyian (July 28, 2020 to July 29, 2024); George Ngángá Kimotho (April 2, 2021 to April 3, 2025); Selly Jepkemoi Korir (September 15, 2020 to September 16, 2024); Henry Sang (October 22, 2020 to October 23, 2024); Joan Rotich Nancy (February 28, 2020 to February 29, 2024); Phenus Kipleting (March 31, 2021 to April 1, 2023); Whyvone Isuza (September 6, 2021 to September 7, 2025); Martha Wanjiru Njoroge (August 4, 2021 to August 5, 2023) and Judith Jengétich (August 4, 2021 to August 25, 2025).

Adak also exclusively shared with The Sunday Standard a list of the nine athletes who have been provisionally suspended for unspecified substances. They are Teddy Otengo Osok (from March 1, 2022), Keli Everlyne Symbua (from May 29, 2022), Phenus Kipleting (from March 31, 2022), Vincent Kiplangát Koskei (from July 25, 2022), Perister Morangi (from July 7, 2022). July 2022). , 2022), Stellah Barsosio Chepngétich (as of March 1, 2022), Eric Kumari Taki (already sanctioned by the Athletics Integrity Unit) and Gloria Kite (as of September 2, 2022).

Adak CEO Sarah Shibutse recognizes the seriousness of the issue and calls on stakeholders to continue supporting the agency. A change in the law, she says, now allows those who test positive for banned substances to be published.

“In the previous code from 2016, when an athlete tested positive, we were only allowed to inform the athlete, national and international federations, and it was up to the athlete to pass on the information.

“We could tell other parties that it is confidential until the final decision is made. AIU started releasing ahead of the 2021 Code, which gives us the latitude to release,” Shibutse said.

Everyone involved, she added, agreed to release any information on the tentative list.

fake injuries

“It was a collective agreement. Adak had previously hesitated because we didn’t want a case that would suppress other anti-doping violations. We could lose cases before the tribunal,” she said.

“We avoided that. We were cautious. We realized that it was better to help sports federations to publish. Wada recognized the decision. It’s easier now. But we agree that there are cartels in the fight against doping and we’re trying to break into these cartels. It really takes a lot of money.”

Noah Busienei, a former athlete and now a coach, said athletes pay anti-doping agencies to avoid having their names published.

“They give bribes so an athlete can’t be named. Some athletes were asked to pay Sh7 to Sh8 million not to be named. Such athletes feign injuries or claim to be on maternity leave,” Busienei said. “It’s shocking that an athlete can win a big race, make good money and then go on maternity leave in great shape. Usually it’s the other way around. A lot of managers, he said, are just out to make money. Let’s do that avoid.” Brokers who transact our athletes. Then we have a permanent solution.”

Wilson Kipsang, a former world marathon record holder who is serving a four-year ban for not updating his whereabouts, said there are many factors leading to the rise in the number of those using banned substances.

“There are so many challenges that have led to an increase in the number of doping cases in Kenya. There is a problem of updating the whereabouts,” Busienei said.

“An athlete must be in constant communication with the person responsible for updating their whereabouts. The pros can update themselves. I have no regrets because there was a mess. They came to me at 10 p.m. and postponed. I never missed my slots.”

Athletics Kenya, he said, should do more to raise awareness among athletes about doping.

“There is insufficient awareness of the issue of whereabouts. AK should conduct awareness seminars on doping across the country. AK should do this more often, there are many new athletes coming,” he said, adding that many athletes have been banned but names are not allowed to be published even for two years.

Athletes must designate one hour per day during which doping control officers can locate them for testing. If you fail to do this after four attempts within 10 months, you will be banned for four years.

dr Kipchumba Byron, an expert in kinesiology and exercise science from the University of Georgia, said much needs to be done to combat the threat.

Medicines are available

“There are limited awareness campaigns in Kenya. I also think Adak is limited in terms of its resources to fulfill its core mission. The agency is responsible for sample collection for testing. They are budget constrained,” he said, adding that sanctioning an athlete alone does not help the process.

“Athletes are workers; they work in sports economics for different units. You are the producers. This comes from AK, Adak, managers and many others. The first line of income is the manager, who receives a percentage, support and bonuses. Most athletes don’t realize how much they’re entitled to in racing. Penalties imposed on athletes should be distributive. But lumping everything together for athletes while these drugs are well out of reach of athletes isn’t fair. The majority of medications are available but must be prescribed by a competent person.”

He added that the hunger for quick cash drives many athletes to use banned substances, but the impact is far-reaching.

“It has physiological and psychological effects. There is also blood doping, where an athlete takes part of the blood and stores it, to then transfuse it after some time. It affects the red blood cells. The introduction of blood biological passports has made it possible to do this to expose.” . This is one of the reasons for the increasing number of doping cases,” said Dr. Kipchumba.

Wada found a way to detect the masking agents.

“Most of our problems are local. It is the interests of foreign managers who exploit the athletes. When an athlete gets injured in Kenya, they usually take him abroad, where we suspect doping is taking place,” Kipchumba said, adding that there is a need to repeal the sports law to protect the country’s athletes from foreign manipulation to preserve. “We need to change the law to make all athlete support staff accountable. Work permits should include an accountability clause if an athlete fails a drug test.”

He also calls for a structured mechanism to manage foreigners dealing with Kenyan athletes. “Adak should have people who understand sports science and policy making in the country,” he said.

Most of the banned substances are stocked in drugstores and pharmacies, as some are used to treat asthma and pneumonia.

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