Kenya’s top marathon runners are convinced they will be at this year’s Olympics after their government finally passed a law to fund an anti-doping agency with powers to imprison cheats.
There had been fears that Kenya’s athletes would miss out on the Rio Games after the country failed to meet two deadlines set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to show that it was compliant with its code. But the reigning London marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge says that it is now “out of the question” that Kenya will be banned after the new law was agreed on Tuesday.
“Parliamentarians are the law-makers in our country, the same set-up as in Great Britain,” he added. “Once the president signs the bill later this week, it’s the law. That is what Wada wanted. So we are safe.”
The former world record holder Wilson Kipsang, who is aiming for his third London marathon title in Sunday’s race, agreed, saying: “Once the bill has been passed, you will find that Wada and Kenya will work together. The passing of the bill gives them a go-ahead for anti-doping. Beforehand they wouldn’t do anything as there was no policy or structure.”
Kipchoge also insisted that most Kenyans were clean, despite more than 40 athletes being banned since 2012. “I invite you guys to Kenya, come to our training camp, see our sessions,” he added. “You will see that people are working hard.”
Kipsang, meanwhile, drew an analogy between athletics and wider society. “Sport is not special or a different event,” he said. “It’s just like life. You find that in society there are one or two criminals, but it doesn’t mean the whole society involves criminals.
“We, as the athletes, want to send out the message to the whole world: ‘please let us not try to sum up and say maybe Kenyan athletes are cheating’,” he added. “No. From results, if one has been found, let him or her carry the cross. As the clean athletes, we are clean.”
The London marathon race director, Hugh Brasher, explained that all top marathon runners now face at least six out-of-competition tests every year. “Since last July, any male athlete running under two hours 10 minutes and any female athlete under two hours 27 minutes goes into a testing pool which means they will get out-of-competition testing,” he said. “This means, along with IAAF testing, they will get a minimum of six a year.”
Brasher also revealed that the world marathon majors were taking the Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova, who was banned for violations in her athlete biological passport, to court to recover more than £1m worth of appearance money and winnings.
“We have taken a court case against her to recover the money she fraudulently won from other athletes from her performances in London,” he said. “We are absolutely determined to stamp out doping.”He also insisted that the risk of any terrorist incident in Sunday’s race was minimal. “At the moment London’s security risk is ‘severe’,” he said. “That security risk hasn’t changed over the last few years, even after the tragedies of Paris and Brussels. The threat to our event is low. That also hasn’t changed. We work very closely with the Metropolitan police, the emergency services, the boroughs and that dialogue is always ongoing.”
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