LONDON - German freelance journalist Hajo Seppelt said on Thursday an underground television investigation in Kenya had convinced him there was a widespread doping problem in the east African nation.
Allegations about doping in Kenya, which along with Ethiopia has dominated middle and long-distance running, were first aired by the German national television broadcaster ARD before last year’s London Olympics.
Last month Kenya’s three-times world 3,000 metres steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui told Reuters doping took place in Kenyan running camps and three Kenyan athletes were banned after positive dope tests.
Athletics Kenya has rejected the German television allegations and accused the broadcaster of attempting to distract its athletes before the Olympics.
Seppelt told the Tackling Doping in Sport 2013 anti-doping conference that the standard of middle and distance running in Kenya was so high that it was harder to qualify for the Olympics than to compete in the Games.
He said the television investigation had shown performance-enhancing drugs, including the banned blood booster EPO, were freely available.
Seppelt later told Reuters he believed that although Kenya did have a special culture of running, including high-altitude training and diet, the country in common with other leading athletics nations had a major doping problem.
“It’s a big one, yes,” he said. “It’s a big one. I am convinced that they have the same problem that a lot of other countries have.
“It’s clear for us that they have really major problems but it’s not only a Kenyan problem, it is a problem of athletics and it’s a problem of earning money and so you have to see also the social situation in that country that people need to get money to help their families to survive.
“It’s correct that they have a culture of running. I would never say that’s not correct. That means they really have good fundamentals for the sport.
“But they use it (doping)... because they need to use it because they need it to succeed and to go to major competitions internationally.”
On Wednesday, Thomas Capdevielle, the results manager in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) medical and anti-doping department, said the federation hoped to establish a laboratory in Kenya before the end of the year to enable blood testing.
Blood tests are conducted as part of the athletes’ biological passport introduced by the IAAF in 2009. They show any changes in an athlete’s blood profile which could have been caused only by doping.
Capdevielle told the conference convened by the World Sports Law Report that 19 athletes had been sanctioned because of abnormalities detected in their biological passports.