By Isaack Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) – A top Kenyan athlete ran away from anti-doping testers who had visited their training camp unannounced to take samples, a senior athletics authority official said, as the East African nation ramps up efforts to combat doping.
Kenya is famous for its long and middle-distance running prowess, but it has been caught up in a series of doping scandals over the last five years, a period over which around 60 of its athletes have been sanctioned for anti-doping violations.
A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report in September 2018 said 138 Kenyan athletes tested positive from 2004 to August 2018.
Barnaba Korir, Athletics Kenya Executive Committee member, said a top athlete had escaped when anti-doping testers from the Athletics Integrity Unit visited their camp this week in Kapsabet, Nandi County in the country’s west.
“After testers introduced themselves and why they visited the camp, one athlete left as if to answer a call of nature only to jump through the window and over the fence,” Korir told Reuters by phone late on Wednesday.
“They won’t escape from the tough measures put in place, however fast they run away and however long it takes.”
Korir declined to divulge more details and say whether or not the athlete being sought had won any international races.
“He is a fairly well known athlete,” he said when asked for more details on Thursday.
In the latest doping related case, the AIU said on its website on Tuesday it had issued a charge against Kenyan middle distance athlete Alfred Kipketer for what it said were whereabouts failures.
The AIU did not give any more details on the case. Kipketer was not immediately reachable for comment.
Under anti-doping regulations, athletes have to inform testing authorities of their whereabouts for a one-hour window of every day and three failures — not being present at the said time — within 12 months leads to an automatic ban.
In 2016, WADA put Kenya on its Category A list of nations on watch for anti-doping violations.
Kenya plans to impose criminal penalties – including possible jail terms – on athletes caught doping, and was preparing new laws to deal with this, its sports minister said in December.
Last week, the AIU provisionally suspended Wilson Kipsang, Kenyan former marathon world record holder and bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympics, for failing to report his whereabouts and tampering with samples.
Kipsang’s management company denied the case involved the use of doping and tampering with the doping test.
(Editing by George Obulutsa and Christian Radnedge)