Athletes lament visa delay

TWO-time Olympian Epiphanie Nyirabarame and Sylvain Rukundo could miss out on the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea following delays in the issuance of visas. Following the on-going chaos in the local athletics federation (RAF), the body has failed to process visas for the athletes.
Nyirabarame (C) is keeping her fingers crossed ahead of the World Championships. The New Times/File Photo
Nyirabarame (C) is keeping her fingers crossed ahead of the World Championships. The New Times/File Photo

TWO-time Olympian Epiphanie Nyirabarame and Sylvain Rukundo could miss out on the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea following delays in the issuance of visas.

Following the on-going chaos in the local athletics federation (RAF), the body has failed to process visas for the athletes.

Nyirabarame, who was preparing to compete in the women half-marathon, admitted that it will be devastating if the pair fails to participate due to visa issues.

“If we don’t get the visas soon, we won’t be able to go,” she told Times Sport. “It’s a blow for us because we had a good chance of qualifying for next year’s London Olympic Games. I really hope we’re able to go.”

Meanwhile, it is also reported that IAAF (the world governing athletics body), did not issue air tickets to the pair meaning that on top the visa debacle, athletes have to find their way to Daegu.

RAF’s first vice president Dieudonne Disi concedes that it’s the federation’s fault that the athletes missed out on free air tickets from IAAF.

“It is the federation’s fault but we are working round the clock to make sure that they travel to South Korea,” the former 10,000m national champion said.

Rukundo will compete in both 5000m and 10000m races. The Championships are set to run from August 27 to September 4.

IAAF launches Daegu blood tests

In a related development, almost 2,000 athletes will be blood-tested in an unprecedented anti-doping programme.

For the first time, every athlete at a major event will be blood-tested under the same conditions and within the same period.

The results will be used to build “biological passports”, assessing each athlete’s normal levels.

Olympic bronze-medalist hurdler David Oliver said of the news: “Good. Wonder how many pull outs there will be.”

Britain’s former Olympic 400m bronze-medalist Katharine Merry hailed the decision by the sport’s governing body the IAAF to announce testing only after entries for the event had closed.

“Will be interesting to see if athletes withdraw from Daegu with illness or injury due to IAAF introducing all athletes to blood testing,” she said on Twitter.

Blood-testing will take place alongside more-established urine testing, involving approximately 500 samples around the event.

Blood samples from the competitors will mainly be collected at a purpose-built doping control station located in the athletes’ village.

The samples will be tested on-site and then sent back to a specialist laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Suspicious blood results could trigger follow-up tests in Daegu in urine and or further analysis in Lausanne.

An IAAF statement highlighted the possibility of testing for blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO), one of the substances British 100m runner Dwain Chambers confessed to using in 2003.

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