Athletics 2015: Kenyan runners brave doping and graft storms

By evelyn watta
Dec 30, 2015
  • Julius Yego poses with his Javelin gold medal at the world championships in Beijing.

  • Nicholas Bett celebrates after winning the 400m hurdles in Beijing.

  • Conseslus Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto on the podium after the 3000m Steeplechase race in Beijing.

2015 is almost in the record books. It was a demanding year for Kenyan track and field within and outside the stadium.

Kenyan athletes produced the quality expected from the worlds best in Guiyang, Beijing to Cali.

Team Kenya muffled the doping murmurs and innuendos that hang around their training camp and the team hotel in China with some bullish performances as Kenya recorded its best ever performance at the world championships.

The Kenyan runners knew what would constitute success with a well rounded performance - a javelin champion, a sprints gold and sprinkles of middle and long distance medals, that had Kenya perched on top of the medal table.

Pioneer winners:Yego and Bett 

Captain Julius Yego, was a good bet for a surprise medal and his 92.72m throw was not only the nation's first field medal, an African record and a huge improvement on his national record.

Also impressive was Ezekiel Kemboi’s fourth world gold medal in the 3000m steeplechase and Kenya's only sweep of medals in Beijing.

Hyvin Kiyeng rounded off Kenya's steeplechase dominance with a calculated win in the women's. David Rudisha blighted by injuries in two previous seasons returned to the throne of the 800m as Asbel Kiprop won a dramatic 1500m race.

Vivian Cheruiyot buoyantly reclaimed her 5000m crown. But without doubt the greatest achievement from the track for team Kenya came from Nicholas Bett, the country’s pioneer gold winner in the 400m hurdles at the world championships.

The doping storm 

Kenyan athletes also grabbed headlines as two of their sprinters were the only confirmed positive cases in Beijing.

Florence Koki and Joyce Sakari, now listed amongst the 40 plus local athletes sanctioned for failed doping tests over the last three years, put the spotlight firmly on Kenya as the country survived a suspension from WADA and the IAAF, who endorsed a commissions decision to lock out Russia from track and field competition.

Kenyan runners had begun their hunt for medals earlier in the year in the Chinese city of Guiyang where the world half marathon champion Geoffery Kamworor added the senior men’s cross-country title to his junior title from four years ago.

Teenager Agnes Tirop became the youngest winner of the women’s senior title with a sterling run over the 8km.

Eliud Kipchoge had a superb season that ensured Kenya remained at the top of the men’s marathon winning the most competitive race of the year in London before adding the 42km title in Berlin.

Gladys Cherono’s world leading run of 2:19:25 in Berlin made her Kenya’s top performer in the marathon alongside world silver medalist Kenyan Helah Kiprop.

Taki tops Youth sheets 

Kenyan juniors also had stellar seasons in Colombia at the World youth with Kumari Taki’s championship record of 3:36.38 in the 1500.

He also won the Commonwealth and Africa Youth gold.

The other World Youth champions from Cali included 2,000m steeplechase champion Vincent Kipyegon, Willy Tarbei the 800m winner and in the 3,000m Richard. Celliphine Chespol was the only gold winner from the girls races in the 2000m Steeplechase.

But there was no letup on the Athletics Kenya top brass who are currently under investigations for abetting doping and are currently suspended for six months as the commission looks into the alleged bribery claims.

Isaiah Kiplagat, the long serving Athletics Kenya president whose bid to remain on the IAAF commission as member fell flat, David Okeyo the vice president and Africa representative on the world governing body commission and Joseph Kinyua the former treasurer, are also accused of swindling sponsor funds. Kiplagat’s return to AK, led to protests by athletes allied to the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya is being.

He is currently being probed by the IAAF ethics commission for receiving two vehicles from the Qatar Athletics Association, to support their bid to host the 2019 World championships.