Doping threatens Kenya's credibility at Rio Olympics: Rudisha's coach

Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:13pm EST
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By Drazen Jorgic

ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) - Doping could cast a shadow over Kenya at the 2016 Rio Olympics unless the East African nation implements credible systems to root out drugs cheats, said veteran Kenya-based coach Brother Colm O'Connell.

O'Connell, who trains 800m world record holder David Rudisha, has coached more than 30 world champions and five Olympic gold medalists during nearly 40 years in Iten, a small village 8,000 feet above sea level in western Kenya's Rift Valley.

O'Connell said elite Kenyan runners - who topped the table at the world championships in Beijing in August with seven gold medals - were concerned their reputations were being tarnished by an international doping scandal and a spate of failed tests by Kenyan athletes.

"If Kenya wants to really move into the Olympics with a clear conscience and with global credibility, then ... better testing and monitoring of our athletes has to be put in place immediately," O'Connell told Reuters in Eldoret, close to Iten.

"If this scenario is going to drag on until Rio, then of course (a cloud) is going to hang over Rio as well."

O'Connell said Kenya had been too slow to react in 2012 when a German documentary alleged it had a doping problem. At the time, Athletics Kenya (AK) dismissed the claims as efforts to destabilize it ahead of the London Olympics.

"When this documentary came out, we should have taken it a lot more seriously and delved into it to nip it in the bud," added O'Connell.

Over the following years, AK has stuck to the same line, denying that its athletes had a doping problem. Officials kept repeating that doping was limited to lower-level athletes seeking a shortcut to riches.   Continued...

Brother Colm O'Connell poses for a photo at St Patrick's High School, where trees have been planted to honour former pupils who have gone on to become world champions, in Kenya's Iten village June 28, 2012.  REUTERS/Drazen Jorgic