Kenya bans seven athletes for doping offenses

Kenya has banned seven athletes, including two women sprinters sent home from the World championships in Beijing, for doping offences, Athletics Kenya (AK) said on Saturday. The government's athletics body "confirmed the sanctioning of the athletes for various doping offences," with bans ranging from two to four years, AK said in a statement.

Protesting Kenyan athletes place placards behind closed gates at Riadha House, the Athletic Kenya (AK) Headquarters in Nairobi.   -  Reuters

Kenya has banned seven athletes, including two women sprinters sent home from the World championships in Beijing, for doping offences, Athletics Kenya (AK) said on Saturday. The government's athletics body “confirmed the sanctioning of the athletes for various doping offences,” with bans ranging from two to four years, AK said in a statement.

Sprinters Francisca Koki and Joyce Zakari, who were provisionally suspended by the IAAF and sent home from the Beijing world championships in August, were each given a four-year ban. They were found guilty for using a prohibited substance, Furosemide.

After the pair tested positive in Beijing, Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto announced plans to criminalise doping. Many in Kenya fear doping is rife among their top-class runners, who have been the source of enormous national pride.

The success of Kenya at Beijing — topping the medals table for the first time since the championships started in 1983, taking seven golds, six silvers and three bronze medals — was tarnished after Manunga and Zakary failed drugs tests.

Two-time world cross country Emily Chebet was also given a four-year ban for using the same drug Furosemide. Marathon runner Agnes Cheserek tested positive for Norandrosterone and will serve four years.

Three other distance runners, Bernard Mwendia, Judy Kimuge and Lilian Moraa Mariita, each received two-year bans. Mariita, the 2012 Miami half marathon winner, was caught doping with the blood-boosting hormone, EPO.

Kenya, under scrutiny amid allegations of widespread doping in world athletics, earlier this month announced the establishment of an anti-doping agency, with the aim of easing concerns over the east African country's internal anti-doping policy.

Earlier this week, athletes barricaded AK headquarters in Nairobi in protest against corruption and lack of efforts to fight doping in the sport. Dozens of Kenyan athletes have been suspended or banned since 2012 after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs, among them marathon star Rita Jeptoo.

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