Justin Lagat linked over to an article at the Guardian yesterday that had a line in it that simply astonished me. We'll get to that in just a second. First, here's the whole article. Wada warns Kenya to comply with its anti-doping rules or risk Olympics ban
It's pretty clear that the WADA has decided to target Kenya. Justin is pretty adamant that the Kenyan athletes are clean - and superior. Me, I agree with the latter. I do think they are superior runners, for a host of physiological and economic reasons. I also think that Kenyans are still people, and people come in all flavors. Some wouldn't cheat ever. They're the 'Goody Two-Shoes' of the world. I, quite fortunately, married one of these people.
Some people, though, will cheat despite the risk and even knowing that they absolutely will get caught. Their lives are usually a rolling disaster and everyone near them recognizes it.
Most of us are in the middle. Given incentive enough, we might 'bend' a rule if we think no one is looking. I see no reason why the Kenyan population would be different in this regard to any other on the planet so on the matter of Kenyans doping, I come down on the side of - Some are. Most probably aren't, the same as elsewhere not named Russia.
To the Kenyan athlete's credit, they have been at the forefront of the battle to get the country's programs in compliance with WADA and trying to drive out the corruption they see. In November, they briefly took over the offices of Athletics Kenya to deliver a message. Thus far, it hasn't been heeded, but there are good people in the fight. They'll keep pushing.
And that's where the governing bodies proved that they have not reformed yet. WADA is deadly serious about cleaning up Keyna, enough so that some European and American athletes have high-tailed it to Ethiopia. Yes, I'm casting aspersions. No, I don't trust the management of the runners or of the governing bodies.
The article states unequivocally that Kenya must have a testing program in place no later than early April or face having athletes banned from Olympic competition. Now part of this is posturing on the part of WADA. Per the article, no national body has ever been banned from the Olympics for not having an anti-doping program. IOC (International Olympic Committee) is the organization that has control of the participants.
Buried deep in the article is this admission: "It is up to the IOC to rule on any Olympic suspension. In November the IAAF banned Russia from international competition following the scandal of state-sponsored doping, but they are expected to be made eligible for a return before the Games in Brazil."
I'm tempted to curse, but this is a PG-rated site. The Russian ban amounts to losing the indoor season. Meanwhile, their athletes are continuing to gear up for the quadrennial event that dominates the sports world and won't be subject to in-competition testing. Out of competition testing isn't even happening - per the WADA press release of January 20th, 2016, "During this period of non-compliance, RUSADA is unable to conduct anti-doping activities." Even if they were, though, out-of-comp tests are a joke, as exposed by Tyler Hamilton in his book, The Secret Race.
Russia shouldn't be allowed to enter a team in international competition for at least four years. That is the penalty assigned to an individual knowingly using banned substances. The Russian Federation engaged in systemic cheating, allegedly bribed IAAF officials, and have done the absolute minimum to avoid further sanctions. To permit them to enter the competition makes a mockery of the efforts of every clean athlete on the planet, so naturally that's what the IOC will do, with the silent acceptance of the IAAF.
In the meantime, Kenyans may forced to stay home? Really? We're cutting some slack to known cheats and criminals but penalizing a great number of innocent Kenyans?
And what about all the European and North American athletes that are training in Kenya right now? Are they subject to the same proposed ban? If not, why not, since they are training right along side the Kenyan athletes in Iten. If we're to be suspicious of one, we should be of all. That won't happen, of course. There's too much money involved.
When I read articles like this one, I'm reminded of a piece written over on VeloNews, Seven Things Track and Field Can Learn From Cycling.
Regretably, T&F is proving to be a slow learner. With the scandals associated with doping, state-sponsored doping, bribery, the no-bid contract for the Worlds in Eugene in 2021, the reports of Nike bribing people, it is amazing that the hammer is poised be dropped on Kenya while the Russians might skate.
The easy answer - that WADA wants to clean up the sport - gets negated by the fact that WADA ignored Russian whistleblowers until the 2014 documentary forced its hand. The IAAF and IOC have demonstrated their fecklessness, but all three need to prove that they possess the integrity to continue to lead.
How better to demonstrate that integrity by clobbering a relatively small and poor nation who's athletes dominate the long distance field, while letting in the known drug cheats, the Russians, and the white folks that trained right beside the Kenyans.
Color me skeptical. Probably cynical, too. I hope the Kenyans get their program built, test clean as a whistle, and embarrass the powers-that-be with a terrific performance on the world stage.