Medical professionals in Kenya are helping elite athletes cover up their drug use, according to a report.
The announcement was made by a tribunal looking into the latest case of a banned Kenyan runner, with the three-member panel uncovering a “pattern of behaviour” in the defences used by athletes accused of doping
The tribunal was investigating middle distance runner Eglay Nalyanya who was yesterday handed an eight-year ban for three breaches of regulations including the presence and use of a prohibited substance as well as tampering or attempted tampering with doping control.
It found that forged documents submitted by Nalyanya were similar to those of another recent case involving fellow Kenyan Betty Lempus who was banned for five years in January.
The panel observed that both Nalyanya and Lempus claimed to have received intramuscular injections while being treated at the same Kenyan hospital.
“In both instances, Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) investigations – in collaboration with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya – discovered the documents were false; that the doctors listed were fictitious; and that neither athlete had received the respective injection though both women had attended the hospital on the respective days in question,” read the verdict.
This led the tribunal to conclude that, “elite Kenyan athletes are being assisted by a person or persons, including someone with considerable medical knowledge, to commit what amounts to criminal conduct involving frauds on the AIU, and that this is not limited to a single case but evidences a pattern of behaviour.”
The latest revelations are a blow to Kenya’s efforts in the fight against doping. Last year, the country narrowly avoided a ban from international athletics after vowing to clean house.
David Howman, chair of the AIU, which is an independent organisation, says they are committed to working with Kenya to ensure that happens.
“It is clear doping in Kenya is increasingly well organised and this is a serious threat to our sport,” he said.
“The AIU has been asked to work with the Kenyan government, Athletics Kenya and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya to attack this crisis.”
“We are all aware of the magnitude of this challenge and we will do our utmost to find the sources of these doping operations in Kenya, to seek the appropriate punishments and protect the integrity of international athletics.”
Responding to these latest revelations, Athletics Kenya said they are committed to the war against doping and are working with the AIU to launch an operation involving criminal investigators and medical authorities to identify and prosecute anyone involved.
They also pointed to the recent five-million dollar cash boost from the Kenyan government as part of the country’s commitment to cracking down on drug cheats.