According to Antti Pihlakoski, Kenya’s doping cartels are not state- or federal-led activities.

Kenyans The recent doping scandals among track and field athletes have forced World Athletics (WA), i.e. the International Association of Athletics Federations, to consider tough measures, but a WA board member Antti Pihlakoski according to Kenya’s doping cartels, it is not a matter of state- or federal-led activity.

“The pain of colleagues in Kenya is intense, and the situation is worrying. The philosophy is different than it was in Russia. In Russia, it was state-led, but in Kenya, attempts have been made to crack down on doping in many different ways,” Pihlakoski told STT on Wednesday.

“The number of runners is large, and a ‘black market’ has emerged for doping substances and also for those who are experts in doping. A few years ago, the Kenyan government passed a law criminalizing the use and sale of doping, but it hasn’t curbed it much.”

On Monday marathoners Alice Kimutai and Johnstone Maiyo got three and a sprinter Mark Otieno a two-year suspension from competition. For athletes of the aforementioned level, there are enough competitions with huge cash prizes, even if the names are not familiar from the result strips of World Cup or Olympic competitions.

“The carts are primarily those that are not exactly the carts of top athletes, but the level there is simply impossible. The one who is 100th in Kenya would be in the medal positions in European competitions”, Pihlakoski underlined the difficulty of the level.

The news agency AFP reported on Tuesday that after the latest scandals, 55 Kenyan track and field athletes are banned from competition. For Kenyans, success as a runner can be a path from rags to riches. According to Pihlakoski, the temptation to use prohibited substances is great.

“The guy next door goes out into the world as a runner, and is only slightly weaker himself. Then the neighbor comes back with the black Mersu and buys the village’s cows. The temptation is awfully big for this other person,” he elaborates.

“The money from the competitions is big by Kenyan standards. A thousand dollars a year is a big burden for many people there. If you get ten tons from one race, the runners after that are rich girls and boys. The temptation grows too strong.”

Russia was banned from international sports arenas after the country’s state-run doping program was revealed in 2015. Athletes who were proven clean were allowed to compete with neutral symbols in, for example, athletics.

WA has enough resources to cover even Kenya.

“We in WA have considered closing Kenya from operations. The Kenyan state and the athletics federation appealed to help rather than punish,” Pihlakoski said.

“The state said they want to intervene strongly. They have spent 2.8 million US dollars a year on anti-doping work. Now the amount will be increased by five million per year for five years.”

According to Pihlakoski, the anti-doping work in Kenya focuses on athletics and especially running.

WA is ready to “add bangs” together with Kenya.

“The laws are there, and testing is being reduced. The criminal side must be caught, who run the black market”, says Pihlakoski.

“The law has not helped, so we have thought about excluding Kenyans from competitions. Then the possibility of making money ends. For them, running is the spirit and life of sport. At this stage, operations will be intensified.”

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