<
>

Kenya threatens to jail agents of runners who test positive for doping

Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat has vowed stiff punishment for doping offenses. AP Photo/Khalil Senosi

Athletics Kenya Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat has announced that agents of athletes who have positive test results for performance-enhancing drugs could face jail time, the BBC reports.

“If you're the one who injected or [are] found to have been contributing towards persuading the athletes to take banned substances, that's a criminal offense," Kiplagat said.

In addition, Athletics Kenya is calling for a lifetime ban on any sports agent or coach who has a business relationship with three runners who’ve had positive doping test results, New Vision reports.

These and other pronouncements came just days before Thursday's hearing by Athletics Kenya to determine the running future of Rita Jeptoo, the 2013 and 2014 Boston and Chicago Marathon champion. Jeptoo produced positive “A” and “B” urine samples for EPO in an out-of-competition drug test in Kenya in September, less than three weeks before her second Chicago victory.

Jeptoo faces a minimum ban of two years, and there will be a determination of which of her titles she’ll forfeit.

Athletics Kenya’s website says that its Medical and Anti-Doping Commission has summoned Jeptoo's coach (Claudio Berardelli), manager (Federico Rosa) and estranged husband (Noah Busienei) to Thursday’s hearing. It is unclear whether Berardelli and Rosa, who have publicly distanced themselves from Jeptoo, will appear.

Kiplagat had previously rejected the notion that Kenyan athletics had any widespread doping problem and blamed what instances did exist on the influence of foreign agents, coaches, and doctors. But last week he went so far as to declare "this doping issue is just as bad as AIDS," and said Athletics Kenya would institute an anti-drug education program “such as the one Kenya launched when HIV-AIDS was first detected.”

"We plan to have our own doping control officers to nab the athletes locally," Kiplagat said in an Associated Press report.

Kiplagat said Kenya will run a new Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, which will conduct random in-competition and out-of-competition testing, something that the World Anti-Doping Agency has been pressuring Kenya to do for several years.

In a statement quoted by Capital FM, Kiplagat said, “Every elite athlete is required to have a biological passport that will record the movement of their blood values. From this month, agents are required to give us their athlete’s blood testing report every month because it will help us keep a data base as we follow them in and out of competition.”

Biological passports can trace fluctuations in body chemistry, thus indicating illicit drug use.

It remains to be seen how Athletics Kenya’s plans will be administered and put into effect, especially the one dictating that runners under 20 won't be allowed to compete in road races. Traditionally, many of Kenya’s top runners have competed in their teens, and such a prohibition would seem to be open to challenges as an illegal restraint of trade.