Boxing Body Boss Says Doping Should Not Be Criminalized

David Munyasia

Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK) has urged the Kenyan parliament not to pass a proposed bill meant to criminalize doping. The association has recommended to the Kenyan Ministry of Sports and other sports associations to instead carry out a massive education program on doping.

BAK President John Kameta said that athletes of Kenya were using substances that they were not aware in a class of banned stimulants. Kameta also remarked athletes don't need to be condemned but educated and assisted on banned substances. He also commented that we are going to end up jailing very young and innocent boys and girls unless stringent measures are taken to educate them accordingly.

Kameta remarked a good example was the case of David Munyasia, the Kenyan boxer who was the first athlete to be found in violation of International Olympic Committee anti-doping rules at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Munyasia, the 24-year-old bantamweight, tested positive for Cathine, a substance from the leaf of the qat plant that is commonly chewed as a recreational drug in East Africa. Kameta added none of the Kenyan boxing officials knew Miraa was classified as a banned substance and added that civic education for athletes, agents, and even doctors would make them aware of banned substances in sports.

A recent report by Moni Wekesa, the chair of the Task force on doping, revealed that a lot of prohibited substances, some recreational, others sophisticated, are commonly abused across all sports. The report urged Kenya to introduce anti-doping legislation and disclosed that athletes from different sports tend to be using a specific supplement store in Nairobi suspected to be providing the banned substance. The report also strongly criticized the head of the national athletics federation for not taking doping in a serious way after he refused to cooperate with the investigation team.

Kenya's Sports Minister Hassan Wario said the country has a very clear road map to tackle the problem by mandating a new anti-doping agency for dealing with the issue. Wario said criminalizing doping would not be the best way for the country.

Recently, Kipchoge Keino sought urgent talks with Parliamentary Committee on Sports and Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario to get a new legislation introduced that would include prison sentences for coaches and agents who encourage athletes to take drugs. Keino, President of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), said the reputation of our sportsmen and women has been tainted beyond any imagination.

The NOCK President had also remarked that Kenya has natural talent and it should not be corrupted by people looking for short cuts, and most of the explanations we are getting from Athletics Kenya are associated with some of the managers of our sportsmen. He went on to add that it is his sincere hope that those behind the doping problem are reined in as early as now so that it does not get to a situation where they ruin our sportsmen and women or even ruin our status as a country.


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