Athletics Kenya blast “smear campaign” amid doping claims

Athletics Kenya have launched a stinging rebuke at a report that claims doping is rife among their athletes, labelling the allegations “libellous” and an attempt to “smear” the nation’s competitors.

A report by German broadcaster ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times claimed, among a string of accusations, that Kenyan athletes won 18 Olympic medals after returning “suspicious” blood tests, in a period between 2001 and 2012.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a statement describing itself as “very disturbed” in the aftermath of the reports, while the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have suggested they could take legal action over the information which was leaked to provide the basis of the claims.

Having seen their athletes targeted specifically, Athletics Kenya have launched a strong response, claiming any accusations are designed solely to throw their participants’ preparations for the World Championships off-course.

A statement read: “We have watched with grave concern the German TV ARD documentary aired on Saturday, August 1st 2015 on serious allegations of doping levelled against our athletes.

“The timing of the libellous report contained in almost half of the 55-minute documentary which alleges widespread systematic doping in Kenya is extremely suspect and ill motivated, coming on the day we selected our team for the IAAF World Championships.

“The Federation always welcomes any information which would help fight the vice of doping.

“But we cannot fail to point out that the documentary is an attempt to smear our runners with unwarranted suspicion as they prepare to undertake duty for their country in Beijing, China.

“The unwarranted claims on the Kenyan athletes are deliberately aimed at derailing the preparations and the participation of the Kenyan team in the World Championships.”

With Russia labelled the “blood testing epicentre of the world”, European Athletics were also drawn to comment.

Their statement read: “[The reports] are a cause for deep dismay and yet another indication of how much we as a sport still have to do to ensure that athletics is free of doping and seen to be fair and clean.”