NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan athletes who engage in doping do it in an uncoordinated, unsophisticated and opportunistic way, with no sign of an institutionalized system, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency report released on Thursday.
The WADA report also said that between 2004 and Aug. 1, 138 Kenyan athletes had tested positive for prohibited substances, 113 of them during competitions.
“The doping practices of Kenyan athletes are unsophisticated, opportunistic, and uncoordinated and there is no evidence of an institutionalized system,” the report said.
“Doping in Kenya is drastically different from other doping structures discovered elsewhere in the world.”
WADA suspended Russia’s athletic federation in 2015 after finding systematic, state-sponsored doping in the sport. Russian authorities have vehemently denied this, though have pledged to cooperate with global sports bodies to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Kenya’s traditional excellence in middle and long distance running has been marred by doping cases involving its elite athletes. In 2017, officials estimated the number of positive cases at between 49 and 52 within the previous four years.
WADA threatened the East African nation with sanctions in 2016 that could have meant exclusion from the Rio Olympic Games.
Kenya subsequently enacted legislation that outlawed doping in sports with a penalty of up to 3 million Kenyan shillings ($29,732) and three years in jail for anyone convicted.
In August, a WADA-accredited laboratory was launched in Nairobi in a big step against doping in the country.
At the time, Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent agency of world athletics ruling body IAAF, said the lab would be the first WADA-approved laboratory in East Africa. The lab started analyzing samples in early September.
AIU said the facility, which will analyze samples collected from athletes across the region, was given the green light following a nine-month project.
WADA’s report found that the most abused substances were Nandrolone and EPO and that medical personnel at times helped in administering them, either intentionally or unwittingly.
“Some local medical practitioners and quasi-medical personnel are unaware and/or wilfully blind to their role in facilitating the access of athletes and their entourage to
Prohibited Substances,” the report said.
In August, Kipyegon Bett, world 800 meters bronze medalist, tested positive for EPO. He is awaiting a second test.
If his positive test is confirmed, Bett will join a growing list of Kenyan athletes to have flouted anti-doping rules. Milan Marathon winner Lucy Kabuu tested positive for morphine earlier in August. Samuel Kalalei, winner of the Athens Marathon last November, also tested positive for EPO on June 4.
Kenyan-born Bahraini runner Ruth Jebet, the 2016 Rio Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion, and former Olympic and three-times world 1,500m champion, Asbel Kiprop, were suspended after their samples tested positive for EPO on Feb. 4 and 3 respectively. Kiprop denied wrongdoing.
Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Mark Heinrich