Elite Kenyan athletes have welcomed the recent move by Athletics Kenya, the governing body for track and field in the East African country, of getting a ‘trustable’ team of doctors to monitor top athletes.

The doctors are Victor Bargoria, David Muhindi, Fredrick Kipkorir, Mwithia Ngundo, Wycliffe Koskei, and Castro Mugalla. They have been chosen by Athletics Kenya and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in an attempt to fight against doping that has brought shame to the sport in Kenya. The country is still on the watchlist of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Athletics Kenya Chief Jackson Tuwei said the doctors will be preparing a report on a monthly basis that would be sent to the IAAF medical and anti-doping commission. Tuwei added an initial team of five “trustable Kenyan doctors” had been picked to monitor top runners of the country. The Athletics Kenya chief added this step would limit bad medical practices and doping-promoting behaviors by some Kenyan health professionals.

The AK Chief also issued a warning to dopers by saying that any athlete who failed to comply would not be selected for international competition. Tuwei added it is absolutely mandatory for these elite athletes to go through this network and said he can understand that it is painful, it is strict, it is critical but we have to do it. The move aimed at curbing the doping menace in the country is expected to be fully operational within a week.

Tuwei added forty-nine athletes have been found to have violated the World Anti-Doping Agency code in the past five years but were cautioned according to the laws of the land and WADA code. Tuwei also remarked we saw it fit to have all athletes in such a similar so that we familiarize ourselves on laws and regulations of doping.

Olympic champion and London marathon winner Jemima Sumgong remarked this anti-doping initiative would help honest athletes. Sumgong added it will make it easier and faster to do a medical, now that there are six doctors whose contacts have been given to us and added this is a good start to eliminate doping. Sumgong, who won Kenya’s first women’s marathon gold in Rio last year, said it will be easy for us now to communicate with these doctors before we take any medicine when the need arises.

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge said this is a good step and a major development for our country. Kipchoge added he is happy with it and added authorities would still need to make athletes aware of the dangers of doping.

The initial list of 109 elite athletes includes women’s 5000m Olympic champion, Vivian Cheruiyot and three-time steeplechase world champion Ezekiel Kemboi. It also includes Kipchoge, Sumgong, two-time Olympic 800m champion and world record holder, David Rudisha, and javelin world champion, Julius Yego.

The world governing body of athletics, the IAAF, commented that this step is not meant to vet athletes, but to provide good quality medical support. Chris Turner, a spokesman for IAAF, remarked the network comes as part of the preventive measures intended to address the proliferation of rogue doctors, limit poor medical practice, and address the supply of prohibited substances.

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