Kenya sets up task force to probe doping allegations



Nairobi: Kenya on Monday named a task force to probe doping allegations, a day before the distance running giant was expected to come in for criticism at an anti-doping summit.

Sports minister Hassan Wario said the 12-member body had been asked to carry out extensive investigations and report its findings within two months.

Last year the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked Kenya to investigate after an undercover German television journalist reported that the blood-boosting drug EPO and other doping products were readily available to local athletes.

The allegations have cast a shadow over Kenya, famed for its record-breaking runners who hold world records from the 800m through to the marathon and where running is a major source of national pride and, in some communities, an important source of income.

"Kenyans are under a microscope for their good performance internationally, and, to maintain credibility, therefore we have to ensure that anti-doping measures are fully in place," Wario told reporters.

"We need to ensure that intelligent testing is being planned effectively to detect doping and we also need to limit the supply of doping substances," he said.

The minister said the investigative body, to be headed by sports administrator-turned lawyer Moni Wekesa, will probe "the allegations into the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs and substance abuse by Kenyan athletes as claimed by the sections of international and local media."

It will also "investigate the involvement of person or persons in the administration or the supply of drugs to the athletes" and assess the true extent of doping and the availability of banned substances.

"The task force findings will be baseline for the programme against doping in Kenya," he said.

Since January 2012, increased doping tests have netted 17 Kenyan cheats. While none of them have been big-name record breakers, the findings have contradicted previous assertions from Athletics Kenya, one of the country's most powerful sports bodies, that its runners are spotless.

Kenya has been singled out as a topic for discussion at the WADA conference starting in Johannesburg on Tuesday, and earlier this month WADA expressed frustration over Kenyan foot dragging.

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