German TV channel stands by its doping report
Nairobi, May 30 (IANS) German national TV station, ARD, which alleged that Kenyan runners were involved in rampant doping, stood by its findings, which were dismissed by Athletics Kenya (AK).
ARD Nairobi bureau chief Peter Schreiber said in a statement Tuesday that the report does not categorically suspect all of Kenya's long-distance runners, adding that is certainly not spurred by hatred for Kenyan athletes, Xinhua reported.
"As Isaiah Kiplagat (AK chairman) put it, we are all aware of the achievements of Kenyan long distance runners and we respect them as a national pride," he said.
According to Schreiber, the report filed by the TV station's renowned investigative reporter Hajo Seppelt, based in their sports department in Cologne, was put together in accordance to the "rules of fair journalism".
Seppelt made the doping allegations in their Saturday show, Sport Inside, aired May 19 that incurred the wrath of the Kenyan athletics fraternity led by federation chairman as well as National Olympics Committee boss, Kipchoge Keino.
Schreiber explained ARD commissioned the story upon receiving hints that there might be doping prevalent among the country's distance runners and their findings pointed to "strong indications that at least some Kenyan athletes break the rules."
The bureau chief further stressed that two doctors, one in the capital Nairobi and another in Kapsabet in the Kenyan Rift Valley Province, collaborated the claims that runners keen on boosting their performances through blood doping agent EPO (Erythropoietin) patronised their premises.
In both cases, the ARD crew used hidden cameras to record their statements.
"Furthermore, the report quotes an active trainer of Kenyan athletes stating that less talented athletes in their struggle to keep up recede to illegal substances," Schreiber went on to disclose the source of the two doctors.
"The trainer advises ARD crew to check a 'Healthy Shop' in downtown Nairobi. The shop's manager, in front of a hidden camera, proudly presents Kenyan athletes as his customers.
"His shop offers pills containing illegal substances and on demand, the manager provides the reporter with high quality EPO (blood doping agent) within a day."
He pointed out that world body IAAF's medical director Gabriel Dolle was quoted on Seppelt's expose as saying Kenya lacks technical preconditions for a systematic and effective testing of athletes blood samples while Danish scientist Bengt Saltin postulated that improvement of the country's runners in Europe between 2008 and 2010 could not have resulted from "just better training".
Last Wednesday, Kiplagat lampooned the report, saying it was meant to demoralise the country's runners ahead of the London Olympics in the summer.
"This story depicts Kenya as a country that uses drugs to enhance performances. I want to assure that 99 percent of our athletes win cleanly," he had said.
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