Kenya reacts angrily to German call for Rio ban

Athletes from South Sudan, part of the refugee athletes who qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and their training partners run along a dusty road during a jogging session at their camp in Ngong township near Kenya's capital Nairobi, June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya reacted angrily on Tuesday to calls by the German Athletics Federation (DLV) that its athletes be barred from the Rio Olympic Games due to doping concerns.

Despite Kenya’s failure to comply with global anti-doping standards, the athletics governing body IAAF has not banned Kenyans from competition, and any decision on excluding them from Rio is in the hands of the International Olympic Committee.

In an open letter to the IOC published by Der Spiegel last week, DLV chief Clemens Prokop said the IOC’s plans to increase doping tests of athletes from non-compliant countries ahead of the Games would be “inept” and allowing them to compete in Rio would be unfair to the others.

The IOC said on June 1 its extra testing programme would apply to Russia, Mexico and Kenya.

The Kenyan Olympic Committee’s chairman, Kipchoge Keino, hit back at Germany.

“Kenya has complied with every recommendation by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and we are in the process of being declared compliant to its code,” Keino told Reuters.

“It is wrong for Germans to call for Kenya to be barred from Rio when we have offered its athletes training facilities in Kenya. To make it worse, some agents suspected to be encouraging doping among Kenyan athletes are Germans,” he said.

In the last four years up to 40 Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests, including former three-time Boston City Marathon and Chicago Marathon winner, Rita Jeptoo, casting a shadow on the nation’s reputation for middle and long distance excellence.

Former two-time 800m word champion Billy Konchellah said Germans were “just jealous of Kenyan athletes’ achievements.”

“Germans should just work hard and make use of their advanced infrastructure to produce elite athletes to rival Kenyans on the track. They should not think if Kenya and Russia are barred from Rio then they will win medals,” said Konchellah.

He added that Kenya should not be compared with Russia where doping was “wide-scale, even state-sponsored, which is not the case in Kenya”. Moscow denies those allegations.

The IAAF, which in November suspended Russia from international athletics because of widespread drug cheating, is set to decide on Friday whether to lift that ban and allow Russian athletes to go to Rio.