NAIROBI (HAN) November 17, 2015. Public Diplomacy & regional Security. Dick Pound has stepped up the pressure on Kenya’s athletes, saying that it is “pretty clear that there is a lot of performance-enhancing drugs being used” in the country.
Pound, who led the independent commission report into systemic doping in Russian athletics, also admitted that the situation in Kenya was not only a matter of concern to the World Anti-Doping Agency but should worry every athlete in endurance events.
“It is pretty clear that Kenya have enjoyed huge success in the endurance events and it is also pretty clear that there is a lot of performance-enhancing drugs being used in Kenya,” he said. “That should be a matter of concern for athletes. It certainly is a matter of concern to Wada. And it should be a concern anyone participating in those events.”
Pound’s comments follow those of the Kenyan Olympic Committee chairman, Kipchoge Keino, who warned last week that Wada was “seriously considering” banning Kenya from track and field for four years. Detectives have also questioned three of the most senior officials at Athletics Kenya – Isaiah Kiplagat, the chairman, David Okeyo, the vice-president, and Joseph Kinyua, its former treasurer – over claims they pocketed close to $700,000 (£460,000) from Nike, an accusation the sportswear manufacturer has strongly denied.
Okeyo, who sits on the International Association of Athletics Federation’s 26-person ruling council, has denied the allegations, which he claimed were made by a disgruntled former employee. Pound has also insisted that Sebastian Coe is the right man to be president of the IAAF, despite widespread criticism that he did not speak out against corruption in the organisation and lavished praised on his predecessor, Lamine Diack, who is now under investigation by French police.
“Let me speak personally on that,” Pound told Radio 4’s Today programme. “I think he is [the right man]. His ascension to the presidency gives the IAAF the unique opportunity that it has not had for many years to really tackle some of these issues. Don’t forget that for a good part of the time he was vice-president his every waking moment – and I’m sure many of his sleeping moments – were focused on getting the London Olympics delivered and properly wound out.”
When pressed that Lord Coe should have done more while vice-president of the IAAF between 2007 and 2015, Pound replied: “If you look at most international sport organisation you’ll see there is tremendous power at the very top in the president because most of the other members are volunteers from all around the world.
They meet perhaps in a congress every year or two and if their executive meets it might be three or four times a year. That leaves the personnel at the top of the organisation in a pretty unique and quite often largely unchecked position of power. So one of the issues is governance – how do you keep this from ever happening again?”
Pound also left open the possibility for Russia’s track and field athletes to return to compete in next year’s Rio Olympics but said they must make the widespread changes recommended by his independent commission last week.
“I think if there is a will there is certainly a way. There are some changes that have to be made and imposed in Russia and I assume they won’t just limit it to athletics but across the board,” he said. “While I don’t think you can necessarily change the culture that has developed over the years you can certainly change the conduct pretty quickly if you want to. There is whole range of things that can be done with the supervision of Wada.”
Meanwhile the IAAF has announced that their five-person investigation team that will verify the reforms programme in the All-Russia Athletics Federation (Araf) will be headed by Rune Andersen, a Norwegian international anti-doping expert.
The investigation team, which will monitor whether the All-Russian Athletics Federation takes the measures needed to regain IAAF membership, will also include four IAAF council members: Abby Hoffman, Anna Riccardi, Frankie Fredericks and Geoff Gardner.
Coe said: “After consultation with Wada, we will set the verification criteria. The five-person inspection team, led by a renowned anti-doping expert Rune Andersen, has an extraordinary amount of experience to ensure Araf meets the criteria and is eligible to once again enter athletes into international competition.”