Most of our athletes are clean, insist Kenyan duo
The past two winners of the London Marathon launched an impassioned defence of athletics in Kenya yesterday, despite the country's terrible doping record, insisting it was unfair to tar all athletes from the nation with the same brush.
Kenya appeared to stave off any threat of a ban for the Rio Olympics by passing a law earlier this week to make doping a criminal offence. That move had been demanded by the World Anti-Doping Agency after more than 40 Kenyan athletes tested positive for banned substances over the past five years.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's London Marathon, defending champion Eliud Kipchoge and 2014 winner Wilson Kipsang urged fans not to have a "wrong perception" of Kenyan athletics.
"Sport is not special, it's just like life," said Kipsang, the former marathon world record holder and the president of the Professional Athletes' Association of Kenya.
"You find that in society there are one or two criminals, but it doesn't mean the whole society are criminals. It doesn't mean all athletes or the whole sport is cheating. All these guys, we have been tested like seven or eight times, in and out of competition, and we should trust the results.
"We want to send out the message to the whole world, 'Please let us not try to sum up and say all Kenyan athletes are cheating'. No. We are clean."
Kipchoge added: "I can assure the general public that we are clean. I invite you guys to Kenya. Come to our training camps."
As part of the World Marathon Majors - the six leading races - the London Marathon contributes to the world's biggest privately funded anti-doping programme, which was established last July.
Any male running under two hours and 10 minutes or female under 2:27 must now submit to six random out-of-competition blood tests in addition to anti-doping regimes run by governing bodies.
"There is an absolute desire to have a clean sport," said London Marathon director Hugh Brasher. "We are determined the winners should be clean."