- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

Doping substances are commonly used across Kenyan sports according to a government report, which found that steroids were given to players on Kenya’s rugby sevens team, footballers are taking stimulants, and stores are selling banned substances to some of the country’s world-beating runners.

The report by a task force set up by the government to investigate allegations of doping in Kenyan sport after a recent spike in cases concludes there are no effective anti-doping controls in Kenya. It also fiercely criticized the head of the national athletics federation for not taking doping seriously after he refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat “does not seem to understand the gravity of doping in athletics,” the report by a panel of experts said. The report has now been handed over to the Kenyan government and the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Africa office in Cape Town, South Africa, the chairman of the task force, Moni Wekesa, said.

The anti-doping task force was eventually commissioned by the government to investigate after German broadcaster ARD alleged back in 2012 that there was widespread doping among the East African nation’s outstanding distance runners, saying the blood-boosting drug EPO and other prohibited substances were easily available from chemist stores in its famous high-altitude training camps.

With Kenya under pressure from world anti-doping body WADA to fully investigate the allegations, the long-awaited report agreed with some of ARD’s allegations.

“(Investigators) visited the identified shops and chemists and verified that indeed it was very easy to purchase very sophisticated performance-enhancing substances over the counter,” the report said.

The investigation was initially meant to focus on the recent rise of doping in athletics: Kenya has had 36 doping cases between 1993 and April this year, the report said, with 18 of those as recently as 2012 and 2013 and involving runners.

But rugby and football also have significant problems.

The report called for disciplinary proceedings against Kenya rugby sevens head coach Paul Treu and five members of his staff after steroids were found in player supplements in January.

There was “a concoction they (the coaches) gave players to drink at the beginning and end of training,” Wekesa, the task force chairman, told The Associated Press on Monday. His report noted the players would stop taking the supplement a few days before competing. Kenya’s team plays on the top-level world rugby sevens series.

Wekesa said that tests performed on the supplements were positive for steroids, and the Kenya Rugby Union was immediately informed. The KRU handed over all the supplements and stopped giving them to players. Treu coached South Africa to the IRB Sevens Series title in 2009 and joined Kenya’s team as head coach last year.

The report also suggested the nation’s 15-a-side rugby head coach and assistant coach should face anti-doping disciplinary procedures.

The Kenya Rugby Union and WADA’s office in South Africa didn’t immediately respond to telephone calls from the AP seeking comment on the findings.

Athletes from different sports appeared to be using the same suppliers, according to the report, after it identified a supplement store in the capital Nairobi as a possible provider of banned substance to runners. The store was also the rugby team’s supplement provider under a previous coach.

And in football, there is “a lot of use of prohibited substances,” the report said, claiming players are using cannabis, cocaine, anabolic steroids and stimulants acquired from coaches and other players.

Overall, there are no effective anti-doping controls in Kenyan sport, the report said, and it urged the country to introduce anti-doping legislation.

“A lot of prohibited substances, some recreational, others sophisticated, are commonly abused across all sports,” the report concluded.


Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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