Athletics integrity body to boost drug testing in Kenya

Kenya Head of Athletics Integrity Unit AIU Brett Clothier is on a visit to Kenya.  By Tony KARUMBA AFP
MAR 31, 2023 LISTEN
Head of Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) Brett Clothier is on a visit to Kenya. By Tony KARUMBA (AFP)

The head of the Athletics Integrity Unit warned on Friday that the international anti-doping body was stepping up its investigations and testing in Kenya.

According to the AIU, a total of 67 Kenyan athletes -- mainly distance runners -- have been banned in the last five years for drugs offences in a crisis that has tarnished the East African track and field powerhouse.

"One thing that everyone should be aware of is that with more testing, more cases will be reported, but that doesn't mean more doping. That is what is coming but it is the pathway to address this problem once and for all," AIU chief executive Brett Clothier told reporters in Nairobi.

Kenya narrowly escaped being sanctioned by World Athletics last December, after the government pledged to increase its funding of five million dollars a year to combat doping.

But Clothier, who is on a week-long factfinding trip to Kenya, said athletes needed to brace themselves for tougher action against drug-taking in the sport.

"What you will see over the coming months is big changes in the anti-doping landscape," he added.

"First of all there will a lot more testing, especially conducted by the Anti-Doping Association of Kenya, and a lot more resources being put into investigations and intelligence gathering about the real source of the doping."

The AIU has joined a broader government push to fight drug-taking in sport which also involves Athletics Kenya, police and other law enforcement bodies.

Clothier said some of the suspended athletes are refusing to say who supplied the banned substances because of fears for their security.

"The situation we have here is that it's a crime. There are criminals involved," said Clothier.

"There's lots of money to be made and people who think they can take advantage and make money from the athletes... are criminals, and it can be a dangerous business.

"The athletes have fear and what we need to do is break that down."