Kenyan Olympic 800 metre champion David Rudisha has today (2 March) said a lack of infrastructure and funds in developing countries such as his are making doping problems there "a big issue". In comments he made in Melbourne, where he is due to take part in the IAAF World Challenge meeting on Saturday, the Kenyan superstar said he hopes his country is however on the right track when it comes to restoring its reputation.
The 27-year-old, who lit up the 2012 London Games with a brilliant world record performance in the 800 metre final, says he has been distressed by the allegations of doping and corruption that have rocked the East African country's athletics programme.
While Kenya has been hugely successful in middle and long-distance running for decades and remains a global leader on the track and in big-city marathons, some 40 of its athletes have been banned for doping in the last three years alone. The World Anti-Doping Agency has given the country an April deadline to implement new anti-doping measures or risk non-compliance, which could pave the way for a ban on its track and field athletes competing at the Rio Olympics.
"This problem with doping is a big issue and I think it also brings us together. The government, the federation, need to work together also with the athletes and a lot of education needs to be done to increase the awareness," Rudisha said.
The track star told reporters that he did not feel the doping problem was widespread in Kenya, but said the country lacked the correct landscape to monitor the thousands of runners.
"We lack a lot of infrastructure, we don't even have a lab in Kenya, and you find that it is very difficult for the anti-doping agency to control the situation because there are thousands and thousands of Kenyans training out there and only a few of them are on the Wada list. So you can imagine how difficult that is because, so far, out of over 40 Kenyan athletes who have been caught doping, only a few of them are elite athletes, like two or three of them, so you find that if you put it into percentage, the elite runners are very few.
"These upcoming, young athletes, are a big problem because they are not known, nobody knows them and then when they get out there and compete for the first time, they are being caught, but that is good, because it shows the anti-doping agencies also are doing their job," he said.
Rudisha added however that he felt the authorities were trying to resolve the problem. "Well actually, may I say also that they are trying. The situation that as I've said is also very difficult to control, because you find that they are finding themselves in this mess," said Rudisha.
Allegations of corruption also hit the national governing body, mirroring the wider scandal that plunged the International Association of Athletics Federations into crisis last year and triggered Russia's suspension from international athletics. Athletics Kenya (AK) Chief Executive Isaac Mwangi was provisionally suspended by the IAAF last week after two local athletes accused him of seeking bribes to reduce doping bans.