By Omulo Okoth
It was a horrible week for Kenyan sport. Even before the ink could dry on reports circulating on the social media about some elite Kenyan athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, another bombshell drops.
Kenyan athletes are, by and large, clean. They win races by sheer hard work and are often driven by the desire to win, earn big money and improve their lot.
However, they are so many that even the athletics governing body, Athletics Kenya, cannot keep tabs on them all. Efforts to seek clearance from athletics authorities to enter foreign races a decade ago were short down by claims that some officials demanded favours from athletes before issuing such clearances.
Since the laisez faire system where athletes did and still do as they and their managers please, it has become impossible to monitor all Kenyan athletes.
Kenyans only get information about them when they have won races, which they do in virtually every corner of the world. Officials only know some athletes when they die and a global appeal is sent for their bodies to be brought back home.
In the process, there are some black sheep among the athletes. In a pool of thousands of professional athletes, there are bound to be cheaters among them.
Authorities have not helped the situation because everybody masquerading as an athletics coach or writer or cameraman has been allowed into our camps where they gleefully got whatever information they desired and went back home.
Some of these so-called agents are actually criminals who are in the country illegally and influence our athletes into abusing performance-enhancing substances.
The German journalist, who got the information and bought the much-dreaded EPO from a chemist in Nairobi, appears to have done his research and co-ordinated his local movements pretty well.
Athletics Kenya denied his story and said Kenya is being defamed. But denials are one thing. The actual situation on the ground is quite another. AK should first address the issue of some bad elements among its rank and file. They can get them to account because they know them.
As AK Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat promised this week, thorough investigations should follow. We must clean the system. I would rather have a few athletes who win genuinely than have many cheaters who laugh all the way to their banks, quite oblivious of the side effects that would visit their post-running lives.