Why Kenyan drug cheats prefer these four substances

©Athletics Kenya.

ATHLETICS Why Kenyan drug cheats prefer these four substances

Joel Omotto 08:52 - 28.07.2023

Kenya has remained on the list of shame as doping cases escalate and it has emerged that a big percentage use specific substances for various reasons.

In the last year, over 70 doping cases have been reported in Kenya with 25 in 2023 alone.

Of the reported cases, it has emerged that a big number of them have been caught using four specific substances.

The drugs are preferred by Kenyan athletes for various reasons and even despite efforts by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) to curb the vice, it still looks far from stopping as the country remains in Category A on the list of nations on watch for anti-doping violations.

The said substances are blood-booster EPO (Erythropoietin), Triamcinolone acetonide, an intra-articular injectable used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, as well as anabolic-androgenic steroids Norandrosterone and Nandrolone.

According to Dr Martin Yauma (pictured below), who is in charge of education and research at ADAK, these drugs are preferred by athletes because they allow them shortcuts to success instead of putting in the hard work.

“Those four substances are mostly abused because they tend to be more helpful to the biological system because most of these athletes have inadequacies in terms of training,” Yauma told Pulse Sports.

“They don’t train following the proper principles of training, they don’t take care of their nutrition, and they also have the urge to make quick money.

“They want power and strength which they do not get through training and then that makes them susceptible to dope and then you find that during training, others use steroids which help to build muscles and adapt to training and also used during recovery.

“Since during training there is wear and tear of muscles, and instead of using proper scientific methods, they want to use these substances to recover quickly.”

It has also emerged that the substances are common among middle and long-distance runners who form the big percentage of doping cases in Kenya.

“Middle and long-distance races need a lot of endurance, running for long distances takes time and therefore, you really need to train your body to be able to withstand that kind of stamina,” added Dr Yauma.

“If you do not use proper training methods or lack a coach well versed with how to get there, then you will resort to these substances because the competition is high. There are many athletes who want to get to that level so that pressure gives you an environment where you want to use performance-enhancing substances.”

However, despite ADAK’s efforts, Kenyan athletes are still getting on the list of shame even with the threat of career-ending lengthy bans.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in April blamed a "medically-savvy operation" in Kenya for covering up doping offences following investigations that revealed similar falsified documents in two cases.

It makes it difficult to stem the vice given the runners are being assisted by people with considerable medical knowledge, something Dr Yauma blames on naivety on the part of the athletes.

“There have been unscrupulous business people who have taken advantage of the vulnerability of our athletes to administer these prohibited substances,” he said.

“They are making good money off the athletes and cheating them that they will not be caught. At the moment, ADAK has revamped its intelligence and investigation department from a multi-sectoral perspective. The investigating team is in collaboration with government institutions mandated to conduct intelligence.”