Kenya’s Mweresa fails dope test ahead of African showpiece

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Kenyan sprinter Boniface Mweresa has failed a doping test and been dropped from the team for the African Championships which start in Asaba, Nigeria on Wednesday, a senior official from the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) has told Reuters.

Samples from Mweresa, who won silver in the 400m and gold in the 4x400m at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, were taken at the June 6-8 Kenya Defence Forces Championships in Nairobi and contained a banned substance, the official said on Tuesday.

The Kenyan delegation traveled to Asaba on Monday without Mweresa, who was a member of the team at the 2013 and 2017 World Championships in Moscow and London respectively and at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Gold Coast.

Mweresa, 24, could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters but the athlete told local media he was innocent and had taken supplements which he had declared to ADAK.

“Declaring that he took supplements does not make him innocent if we find banned substances in his samples,” the ADAK official, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.

Mweresa, who would have been a medal prospect at the African Championships in the Delta State city of Asaba, told local media he would challenge the decision at the Kenyan Sports Tribunal.

Senior officials from the country’s governing body, Athletics Kenya, have traveled to Asaba for the African Championships and could not be reached for comment.

Kenya is renowned for its middle and long distance running prowess but the east African nation’s athletes have suffered more than 50 failed doping tests in the past six years.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent global body that manages all doping-related matters, said this month that Kenyan–born Olympic steeplechase champion and world record holder Ruth Jebet, who runs for Bahrain, is being investigated after returning a positive test for the blood booster EPO.

The AIU also confirmed in May that Kenya’s former Olympic and three-time world 1,500m champion, Asbel Kiprop, had failed a test for EPO. Kiprop has denied wrongdoing and his case will be heard at an AIU tribunal being held in London next month.

The sport’s world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said on Friday that it had approved new rules which spell out the obligations of its member federations in the fight against doping.

Athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, Belarus and Ukraine will be tested three times in the 10 months prior to world championships and Olympics. They are in category A which is described as having “member federations majorly at risk of doping.”

Previously, the obligations under the anti-doping code were focused primarily on individuals rather than member federations.

The AIU recommended the new regulations to the IAAF as a crucial step in protecting the integrity of the sport.