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Kenya Not Taking Doping Seriously, Country's Athlete Group Says

FILE - Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo walks past photographers as she arrives at the Athletics Kenya headquarters after failing a doping test, in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 15, 2015.

Kenya's government is not taking seriously the problem of doping among the nation's athletes and the country needs help from international sports bodies to tackle the issue, according to a report compiled by Kenyan athletes and released Friday.

Kenya boasts some of the world's finest middle- and long-distance runners, but in recent years has been shaken by a spate of failed drug tests by athletes.

The Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK), whose president is two-time London marathon winner Wilson Kipsang, said it wanted more help from Kenya's government, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the world athletics body IAAF.

"We confess doping is a real problem in Kenyan athletics," PAAK said in a statement summarizing a doping report it sent to the IAAF, WADA and the International Olympic Committee.

"Doping has not been accorded the seriousness it deserves by relevant authorities in Kenya," said the statement, dated Nov. 11 and circulated to reporters Friday.

The crisis in Kenyan athletics deepened this week when PAAK athletes stormed headquarters of the athletics federation and barricaded themselves inside in protest over corruption and feeble efforts to tackle doping.

The standoff ended after talks with government officials who called for top Athletics Kenya (AK) bosses to step aside while they were investigated by police for corruption.

AK officials have denied embezzling funds relating to a corporate sponsorship deal and say Kenya is doing its best to root out drug cheats despite limited resources.

Kenya topped the medals table at the August world championships in China, but PAAK athletes worry dozens of failed tests and alleged graft by AK chiefs could see Kenya follow Russia in being banned from international track and field.

FILE - Sportsmen train at a local stadium in the southern city of Stavropol, Russia, Nov. 10, 2015.
FILE - Sportsmen train at a local stadium in the southern city of Stavropol, Russia, Nov. 10, 2015.

Kipsang, a former marathon world-record holder, has told Reuters that PAAK was formed after Athletics Kenya had failed to look after athletes' interests and tackle doping.

PAAK said athletes themselves were now investigating doping. The group has also distributed leaflets to pharmacies and doctors in Kenya's western running heartlands near the Rift Valley town of Eldoret advising athletes on what drugs they cannot use.

PAAK said doping was a politicized matter in Kenya, and previous promises made in the media were not followed up on.

The athletes' group has urged WADA to carry out testing outside of competition times in Kenya and has promised to help investigations into alleged doping cover-ups by Athletics Kenya, something AK officials strongly deny doing.

"Bringing sanity and restoring trust lost by athletic fans is (our) ultimate goal," the PAAK statement said.