Athletes Kenya’s Last-Minute Doping Drama Threatens Olympic Dreams

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– AK to announce Africa Championships team after anti-doping scrutiny.

– AK president Tuwei emphasizes compliance with anti-doping rules.

– New AIU rules: Kenyan athletes must meet anti-doping criteria.

– Failure to comply jeopardizes Olympic dreams.

 Athletics Kenya (AK) will announce the team to the Africa Championships in Cameroon after scrutinizing and verifying potential competitors who have satisfied the new anti-doping test criteria from Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

Final List Release Date

AK president Jack Tuwei said the final list will be released next week after wide-ranging consultations with an anti-doping management committee to ensure no athlete falls afoul of the requirements.

“Next week when we have gotten all the names together, including those who are competing in the United States (Prefontaine Classic), plus those who did not attend because of Diamond League events and engagements, then we will put all that together and coordinate in the right way so that we keep to the principles and rules of anti-doping requirements,” Tuwei said.

Tuwei apologized to athletes for any inconvenience or disappointment caused but was quick to point out the need to follow the rules to the letter.

“I would like everybody to understand this…it is not our wish to do that but when the rules and regulations are there, it is important to follow them so that at the end of it all, we do not get into any issues,” the president said.

AIU New Rules

The new rules from AIU require all Kenyan athletes to undergo their first anti-doping test by May 4 of this year whereas the last of these three out-of-competitions should be undertaken three weeks before the opening ceremony for the Paris Olympics.

Failure to satisfy these requirements means that affected athletes can kiss their Olympic dreams goodbye.

Being an Olympic year, the Africa Athletics Championships  set for June 19-23 in Douala, Cameroon  will also serve as an opportunity for competitors to qualify for the quadrennial event by clocking the required time for their respective disciplines.

National trials for the continental competition were held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ulinzi Sports Complex where hundreds of athletes were in action.

The disappointment at the end of the day notwithstanding, Tuwei lauded the calibre of competition and hunger for success on show on the track and field.

“We have seen what you have done yesterday and today…congratulations. We have seen the training you have gone through. We now know where we are at this particular time,” he said.

The president further encouraged those who are yet to secure qualifying time for the Olympics to continue pursuing it so Kenya may have representatives in all the races.

“There is still time…the deadline for meeting the qualifying time for the Olympics is the 30th of June. I’d like to encourage all those who are competing in the Diamond League and other events…as well as at the Africa Championships to continue working hard to meet the qualifying time so we may have a bigger contingent at the Olympics,” Tuwei said.

 List of banned Kenyan Athletes

Meanwhile, The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU)  published the latest list of athletes who have been banned for doping and non-doping violations.

The Kenyan athletes banned are Brenda Chebet, Agnes Mumbua, Mathew Sawe, Zena Chemutai, Hannah Wairimu, Cynthia Kendi, and Eliud Kibet.

Mumbua, Kibet, and Sawe have been sanctioned for four years, and their ban will expire in 2026. Wairimu, Kendi, and Brenda have been banned each for three years while Chemutai’s ban will run for one year.

Heartbreak for Chebet

Chebet, 20, is the youngest of the athletes on the latest list and has shown signs of a promising future given how she has performed in the previous assignments.

At the African Championship held in Mauritius last year, she finished fourth in the 1500m before a six-place finish in the 800m final.

At the 2022 World Athletics U20 Championship in Colombia, she won a silver medal after running a personal best of 4:04.64.

She was a gold winner at the 2023 World Athletics Cross Country Championships, held in Bathurst, Australia, in the mixed relay race. The Kenyan team, which also had Emmanuel Wanyonyi, Mirriam Cherop, and Kyumbe Munguti, completed the course in 23:14.

Kibet, born in 1987, participated at the 2004 World Cross Country Championships, where he finished sixth in the short race and was on the Kenyan team that won the bronze medal in the team competition.

Sawe holds a personal best of 2.30m (7 ft 6 1/2 in), which is the Kenyan record in high jump. He won the national trials with a national record height before winning gold at the 2016 African Championships in Athletics, making him the first Kenyan to win that title.

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