By Isaack Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) - By forcing Kenyan athletes to undergo additional drugs tests before allowing them to compete in Rio, the International Olympic Committee is trying to intimidate his countrymen, a former running champion said on Wednesday.
The IOC said on Tuesday that every competitor from Russia and Kenya will have to be evaluated individually for doping and be cleared by their sport's international body, because of those countries' poor anti-doping records.
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“Kenyan athletes undergo various doping tests all over the world – in Diamond League and other international competitions. This special test announced by IOC does not sit well,” Noah Ngeny, winner of 1,500m gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, told Reuters.
“This, to me, sounds like international bodies are intimidating Kenyan athletes. And that’s annoying,” said Ngeny, who stepped down as athletes’ representative within the Kenyan athletics ruling body, AK, two months ago, after accusing it of various shortcomings.
Kenyan officials have accepted the IOC's ruling.
“It is up to us Kenyans to prove that we are doing enough to eradicate doping among our athletes. We don’t have to wait for international bodies to coming knocking on our doors for us to wake up,” AK executive committee member Barnaba Korir said.
“We must prove that we are doing what we are supposed to do. How do we prove this? By continually testing our athletes. Let us not wait for them (the World Anti-Doping Agency) to come and do it for us.”
The head of Kenya’s mission to the Rio Olympics, Stephen Arap Soi, said he had requested government funds to conduct tests on the 90-member delegation to the Games, which comprises track and field, boxing, archery, rugby, judo and swimming athletes.
“We want to send a message that, yes, Kenya is against any unfair play in the Olympic movement and that we don’t encourage nor condone doping in sports,” he said.
The east African nation known for its middle and distance running prowess has been under intense global scrutiny over doping, with up to 42 athletes failing tests in the past four years and 18 of them serving sanctions totaling 55 years.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)