'Evidence is of grave concern' - UK Anti-Doping probes disturbing new drug claims
Two UK Anti-Doping investigators have been sent to Kenya following allegations of doping at a training camp that is used by British athletes.
An investigation by The Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WRD claims that the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO) is widely available at an elite training centre in Iten, Kenya, popular with distance runners from around the world.
They have reported allegations from Kenyan doctors that three unnamed British athletes received banned performance-enhancing drugs in the town.
The investigation claims to be in possession of images of boxes of EPO inside the training centre, as well as used syringes in a bin. One doctor is quoted as boasting about supplying “more than 50” athletes, including the British runners, based on his guarantee that he could dramatically improve their performances in “three months”.
UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: “UK Anti-Doping has reviewed the evidence presented to us by the Sunday Times and it is of grave concern and of significant interest.
“We have opened an investigation and are taking the necessary steps to corroborate the evidence and investigate it further.
“Like all investigations we cannot disclose the exact details of what we are doing, as disclosing our tactics may undermine that investigation. However, I can confirm that this evidence is being treated with the utmost importance and urgency, and two members of UKAD staff are currently in Kenya pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.” UK Athletics (UKA) said that none of the doctors featured in the allegations were known to it or had treated its athletes.
Iten plays host to performance camps for many of the world’s top athletes, seeking to capitalise on the benefits of training at altitude.
Sapstead admitted UKAD had “concerns relating to the practices and the lack of anti-doping infrastructure in a number of countries”.
She added: “We recognise that many athletes train overseas for a number of reasons such as, warmer weather or the altitude, and sometimes in countries which do not have the necessary anti-doping systems in place.’’
UKA insisted it was confident that elite British athletes who trained in Iten were not exposed to doping.
The governing body said it had faith in the measures it took to ensure the “safety and security” of its athletes, adding that the allegations that were put to it were “vague and unsubstantiated”.