British Anti-Doping Agency Investigating Kenyan Doctors
The British Anti-Doping Agency has opened an investigation looking into alleged claims that doctors in Kenya made illegal performance enhancing drugs available to British athletes.
The claims have been levelled by the Sunday Times of London newspaper in conjunction with German television channel ARD, with hidden camera footage allegedly showing two Kenyan doctors and another person known to them claiming that they had provided Kenyan and British athletes with a banned blood-boosting drug called EPO (Erythropoietin).
Blood doping is a growing concern in athletics internationally, with the problem seemingly expanding to levels that are beyond control. Kenyan athletics has already been at the centre of this issue, with Russian athletes banned from the 2016 Olympic games in Rio as a result of confirmed doping.
In East Africa over 40 Kenyan athletes have been banned for doping by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with title holder of the Chicago and Boston Marathon, Rita Jeptoo, 400 meter runner Joyce Zakari and renowned road runner Mathew Kisorio all implicated for failing doping tests.
The nation, which is famous for producing world-class athletes, risked being banned from this year’s Olympics in Rio, with the World Anti-Doping Agency pressurising the country into taking serious measures aimed at addressing a series of doping and corruption scandals.
A fresh scandal now sees allegations from ARD and The Sunday Times suggest that Kenyan doctors have given banned drugs such as EPO to both Kenyan and foreign athletes when visiting the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten in an effort to illegally enhance their performance.
The undercover journalists involved reported finding used syringes and empty EPO packs in rooms and dustbins at the High Altitude Training Centre, which is often used by top foreign athletes from around the global.
Three unnamed British athletes are allegedly amongst the 50 athletes that are mentioned within the hidden camera footage, with the two doctors saying that they administered a series of EPO injections for a specific British athlete ahead of a major race.
Centre owner denies claims
Pieter Langerhorst, one of the owners of the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten responded to the allegations by confirming that doping was not tolerated at the centre.
“We have 16 cameras installed to monitor what is going on, and we must be the only training centre in the world that always tells the IAAF which athletes are staying here, and in which rooms, to allow them to test at short notice,” Langerhorst told TheGuardian.
“The ARD documentary alleged that packets of EPO were found in a bin on our premises. But from what I have read, EPO needs to be stored in a refrigerator and at the HATC there is just one communal fridge, which all the athletes use,” he added.
Langerhorst said that he would happily comply with investigators as he has nothing to hide.
British Anti-Doping Agency reacts
Reacting to the claims, the British Anti-Doping Agency said that they would be investigating the matter.
“UK Anti-Doping has reviewed the evidence presented to us by The Sunday Times and it is of grave concern and of significant interest,” UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said in an official statement, according to TheMirror.
“We have opened an investigation and are taking the necessary steps to corroborate the evidence and investigate it further,” Sapstead added.