Kenya dismisses athletics doping reports as smear campaign

By Drazen Jorgic NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's athletics body said on Sunday that media reports alleging doping among its runners were a smear campaign ahead of world championships in Beijing. Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD/WDR said they were given access to the results of more than 12,000 blood tests showing more than 800 athletes had given blood samples that were "highly suggestive" of doping or "abnormal". Of the 800, 77 were Kenyan athletes according the reports. ARD/WDR on Saturday aired a documentary in which a hidden camera purportedly showed athletes being injected with performance enhancing drugs. ARD also alleged corruption among Kenyan officials who wanted to cover up doping by runners. According to the Sunday Times, 18 of the country's medals won from 2001-2012 were won by athletes with suspicious blood-test results. Athletics Kenya (AK) said claims of widespread systematic doping among Kenyan runners was "suspect and ill-motivated". "We cannot fail to point out that the documentary is an attempt to smear our runners with unwarranted suspicion as they prepare to undertake duty for their country in Beijing, China," AK said in a statement. "The unwarranted claims on the Kenyan athletes are deliberately aimed at derailing the preparations and the participation of the Kenyan team in the World Championships." The championships run Aug. 22-30. TRACK RECORD Kenya boasts some of the world's best middle- and long-distance runners but dozens of its athletes have failed drug tests over the past few years, casting a shadow over the success of Kenyan athletics. In February, Rita Jeptoo, winner of the Boston and Chicago marathons, was banned for two years after a failed test in the biggest doping scandal to hit Kenya in recent years. David Rudisha, 800m Olympic champion and Kenya's best known runner, in December told Reuters that AK should have done more to root out drugs cheats as persistent doping claims risk tarnishing reputations of clean Kenyan runners. Kenyan government officials have blamed the growing number of doping cases on foreign agents and AK's failure to educate its athletes properly. AK said it has been fighting hard to combat doping and was working closely with IAAF, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Kenyan government to counter the scourge. The Kenyan sports body also said it had been educating athletes about the dangers posed by doping and was about to conclude an investigation, assisted by police, into the sale, distribution and use of banned substances. (Editing by Jon Boyle)