Ethiopia's distance-running legend Kenenisa Bekele slams athletes from rival African nation; says only those looking to take shortcut to success end up in dope mess
These are uncertain times for athletics, with the spectre of systemic doping in countries like Russia, Kenya etc threatening to discredit the entire sport. As many as 43 Kenyan runners have been banned for doping since 2012, even as it its arch-rival in distance running, Ethiopia, has managed to largely steer clear of the scourge.
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele runs near India Gate in New Delhi on Friday. Pic/PTI
'Only few in Ethiopia'
Ethiopian distance-running legend Kenenisa Bekele credits this difference between the two African neighbours to athletes being better informed by the Ethiopian Athletic Federation (EAF). “In Ethiopia, we've had just a few cases of doping. I'm sure even those involved in those stray cases are athletes, who don't know how to protect themselves from different medicines which could be considered as doping.
I've heard some of those who are caught saying that they used some drugs due to health problems. Ethiopians would never intentionally use drugs to cheat. In our country, we get regular advice from the federation and experts. We are told to be wary of taking any drugs. That's why we are different from other countries. Ethiopia is much better than Kenya,” Bekele told SUNDAY mid-day from New Delhi, where he is the event ambassador of the 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.
Kenya's troubles with doping have become so grave that earlier this month, Kenya's Olympic Committee chairman, Kipchoge Keino, warned his countrymen that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was seriously considering banning the African distance-running powerhouse from track and field for four years. Bekele claimed that some Kenyan athletes dabbled in the malpractice only due to European doctors. “I don't know why Kenyan athletes get lured by doping. Maybe some of them are influenced by European doctors. I think the problem is connected with other countries.
'Affecting your country'
“I don't think only Kenyan athletes are involved in doping. Some athletes only think about results, they don't think about future of athletics, they don't care about the future of the country. They only think about winning quickly by taking a shortcut. In the end, it's affecting your country and the future of athletics,” the 33-year-old added.