•And with increasing incidents of Kenyan athletes being flagged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for whereabouts failures, Rugut called on the athletes to strictly adhere to the rules set-up to avoid being sanctioned.
•Mandu, who was this year appointed to the WADA education committee, also highlighted some of the measures that ADAK is taking in its bid to ensure that the sporting fraternity is well versed with doping-related issues.
The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) has affirmed it's commitment to partner with sports federations, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and the government, through the Ministry of Sports, in the fight against doping.
Speaking during the fourth online sports conference on Thursday, Nock second vice-president, Waithaka Kioni said: “You will recall that as we build up towards the Olympics, one of the key areas of concern and attention besides qualifications was the issue of anti-doping and the need to meet all the regulation protocol codes in place.”
Kioni, who is also the Kenya Volleyball Federation president, added: “This matter remains a huge challenge for us all in our sports sectors, particularly athletics, which we must address as a matter of urgency. What is not in doubt, and I am pleased with the visible efforts carried out by Athletics Kenya, especially in awareness campaigns, is that we do not condone doping in all its forms and character.”
The Team Kenya Chef de Mission to the Tokyo Olympics added.
“We want to walk into the global community of nations such as the Olympics tall, knowing that we are representing as we have always done, very credible and clean athletes for competition.”
“The benefits of doping are short-lived, and the dangers may haunt you for life. NOC-K continues to work closely with ADAK and our affiliates to ensure that doping is a thing of the past,” affirmed Kioni.
Other panelists included ADAK CEO Jasper Rugut and his counterpart Agnes Mandu — the Director of Education and Research, world 5km and 10km record holder, Rhonex Kipruto and AK athletes' representative, Milkah Chemos — a former 3000m steeplechase world champion.
The webinar topic of discussion was doping, moderated by veteran Sports Journalist, Elias Makori.
Rugut said ADAK are keenly following the protocols that have been put in place by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ensure that sportsmen and women in the country are tested and not exposing either the person being tested or the agents to COVID-19.
“WADA continues to provide guidance on the best ways to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled sport globally. We are aware that some of the tests we are carrying out right now are out of competition and do not require any notice," said Rugut.
"Overall, we will continue doing our best so that we don’t open a situation where athletes have an open window to use prohibited substances knowing that we might not have a test coming soon and in the process flout existing regulations.”
Rugut also assured athletes and all involved that their personnel has the required skills to handle their samples and thus they have nothing to be worried about.
“We take our personnel (both in house and volunteers) through rigorous training. They are trained well... going through certification and e-certification regularly to ensure they adhere to international standards,” observed Rugut.
And with increasing incidents of Kenyan athletes being flagged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for whereabouts failures, Rugut called on the athletes to strictly adhere to the rules set-up to avoid sanctions.
“It is your responsibility as an athlete to ensure that your whereabouts are known and are updated adequately,” said Rugut.
Mandu weighed in on the whereabouts scenario, adding: “Athletes are allowed to use their coaches and managers to update their whereabouts. It is however important for them to be within their latest location within the declared one-hour slot.”
Mandu, who was this year appointed to the WADA education committee, also highlighted some of the measures that ADAK are taking in their bid to ensure that the sporting fraternity is well versed with doping-related issues.
“The purpose of anti-doping education is basically to prevent doping. We also are involved in information sharing especially with those engaged in competition to deter them from doping. We use value-based education, especially for younger children aged 14 and below and urge them to compete clean,” she revealed.
As a former athlete, who has been in the forefront fighting doping in Kenya, Chemos called upon athletes to view ADAK as a partner who is interested in their welfare.
“When you dope, you are not only tainting your name but your country's as well. Athletes should run clean, win right and realise that their actions are bigger than them. I urge them not to fear expressing their views about the same and see ADAK as a partner who means good for the sport.”
Kipruto noted that he has been carrying out his training regime as usual, although he has had to make social distancing changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kipruto, who is keen on winning Kenya’s first Olympic gold medal over 10,000m since 1968, said: "I am keeping myself clean. My coaches have been proactive in making sure I share my whereabouts, follow a strict diet and avoid prohibited substances.”
“Athletes should stay focused, disciplined and true to themselves at all times. Train well, eat well, stay aware of anti-doping regulations and be genuine.”
This was the latest in a series of webinars organised by NOC-K since the inaugural one held May 7, aimed at sharing vital information with sports personalities and federations at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled sporting activities globally.