By Isaac Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Athletics Kenya (AK) has drawn up a list of accredited doctors who will be responsible for examining samples from elite athletes and ensure they are not tempted to use banned drugs, AK’s chairman said on Tuesday.
The initiative is part of Kenya’s effort to clean up its image after a series of doping cases brought the nation to the brink of being barred from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
After last-gasp measures to reassure the international authorities, Kenyan athletes were allowed to participate in Brazil and secured the biggest haul of medals by a nation renowned for middle and long distance runners.
“This plan is such that a first sample of trusted and skilled Kenyan doctors has been identified to form the Kenyan Doctors Network,” AK Chairman Jackson Tuwei told reporters.
“Their responsibility is to take care of Kenyan top-level runners and limit bad medical practices and doping promotion behavior by some Kenyan health professionals,” he said.
AK has prepared a list of 109 top athletes who would benefit from support by the doctors and drafted regulations that would make it mandatory for the elite athletes to use the network.
“Failure to comply will result in impossibility for the athletes to represent Kenya in international competitions,” he said.
The new rules will come into effect later this month.
“We therefore ask the athletes, coaches, officials, managers and health professionals to follow this strictly,” Tuwei said.
(Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Pritha Sarkar)