Transgender cases weigh in on Kenyan Athletics

By evelyn watta
Dec 19, 2021
  • Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat.(Photo:SNA file)

It was not the perfect ending that Athletics Kenya, AK, had envisioned to a turbulent season weighted by doping claims and infighting amongst its top brass officials.

As they grappled with the grave doping issues, AK President Isaiah Kiplagat on Friday revealed that they were also reviewing five cases of transgender athletes and were on the trail of about 20 runners who had failed drug tests.

AK is still waiting on marathoner Rita Jeptoo’s B sample retest, which was expected late Friday from the laboratory in Switzerland.

“We have about 20 cases of athletes out there who we cannot trace and don’t have their updated contacts and they have doped,” said Kiplagat as he stressed that the cases were not high-profiled runners as speculated.

“We have doping issues in Kenya, but we must also understand that we have the highest number of runners in the world from 200m to 42km and so any case is widely publicized.You cannot compare us to Russia, China and others.”

Athletics Kenya had strongly dismissed doping allegations amongst the country’s runners when it first came to fore in 2012 through an investigation piece by a German journalist.

Kiplagat maintained that the German journalist is ‘peddling propaganda’ especially on the recent allegations that up to 25 Kenyans featured on a leaked list of athletes from the IAAF records who had returned suspicious blood values.

He argued that that the craving for better life and money was pushing a ‘small percentage’ of runners to dope.

He used the presser at Riadha house to detail AK’s targeted fight against cheats which he boasted had netted up to 32 athletes since 2011.

For now though there is a new cause of worry though for AK’s Doping and Medical commission, handling the tricky transgender issues.

AK to deregister agents

“We now have cases of athletes with hormone problem. Three women and two men, who we have to test and report back the findings to the IAAF,” said Kiplagat who described the arduous gender reassessment testing as a big handicap for AK.

“We need at least 600 000 shilling to conduct and treat one case.”

The Track and field’s world governing body requires that transsexual female runners have their hormone levels kept female-typical by removing the testes and supplementing with the intake of the female hormones.

The same treatment is required for the male athletes but these cases are rare and vague in track and field, possibly because of their confidential management of cases.

South African world champion Caster Semenya had to go through the treatment to balance her hormones shortly after winning the gold in Berlin.

“It is indeed a unique situation that we have been faced with, as in the case of the two men, they were found to be taking fertility drugs that could also have been used as doping agents,” explained Barnabas Korir, a member of the AK Executive.

AK’s guns are not only pointed at the athletes but their managers, coaches, physiotherapists and even doctors who Kiplagat believes are the biggest perpetrators of the vice.

Some of the athletes who have returned positive tests had also used diuretics and masking agents.

“We have also discovered that there are cases of circumvention when the athletes try to cover doping substances. This is an issue that can only be explained by the managers.

Next year we shall be studying the list of managers and agents who have had the highest number of doped athletes and we shall seek explanations from them and if we are not satisfied we shall deregister them,” Kiplagat threatened.

The Athletics boss said the establishment of the National Anti Doping Agency would help in the fight as the body will spearhead educational campaigns and also set up the legal framework that would be able to investigate and prosecute the doping agents.

AK hopes to increase the number of out of competition tests beginning 2015 and also conduct tests in all the events in the country.