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‘I cheat because others cheat’: Kenyan athlete on doping



At first Alex did not want to dope. The Kenyan runner wanted to compete clean, earn an honest living, and lift his family out of poverty through grit and determination.

But his resolve crumbled as he realised he could not match his opponents, athletes he knew were doping and beating the system set up to catch drug cheats.

Soon, Alex was boosting his performance with erythropoietin (EPO), a substance banned by the world doping watchdog but poorly regulated in Kenya.

“I had to use it, in order to earn a living. You cannot compete with people already using and expect to earn something reasonable,” said Alex, who spoke with AFP on condition of anonymity and asked that his name be changed.

“Sport today is not clean.”

Kenyans are legendary marathoners, making up 38 of the world’s top 100 runners in 2019. But the country’s anti-doping authorities have struggled to stamp out a culture of drug use in its fabled athletic fraternity.

Alex trains in Iten, hallowed ground for aspiring Kenyan runners who dream of following their idols from the high plateau above the Rift Valley to the Olympic podium and record books.

But most do not make the big league.

Nearly a thousand Kenyans earn a living competing in marathons across the globe, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit, runners whose times – though unnoteworthy at home – would make them stars anywhere else.

They are not taking home the tens of thousands on offer at major marathons but pick up a few hundred, maybe the odd thousand, in second and third-tier races.

These prizes are fiercely coveted by the enormous pool of talented Kenyans. Placing anywhere high-up could support whole families for months, in a country where many live on little more than $1 a day.

It is among this class of competitor – professional grade, but not elite – that doping is most rampant and unchecked, athletes say.

“You don’t have to be an elite athlete, be on the national team, go to the big races, to make money,” said a pharmacist in Eldoret, a city near Iten, who sells EPO to runners for $20 (17 euros) a dose.

Kenya was forced to confront its doping problem in 2016 when a string of high-profile scandals almost saw the country blacklisted from the Olympic Games in Rio.

It scraped through, promising to stamp out cheating through tough new laws penalising users and dealers and a newly-established anti-doping agency (Adak).
Drug tests jumped ten-fold in a matter of years.

A blood testing laboratory approved by the World Anti-Doping Authority (Wada) opened in Nairobi in 2018. For the first time, Kenya was able to create biological passports for about 40 of its top athletes.

Big names – including Olympic gold medallists Jemima Sumgong and Asbel Kiprop – were among the Kenyan stars to test positive in the years after the Rio scare.

But a whole class of international-grade runners, one step below the best, have gone virtually undetected.

These athletes are not subjected to regular testing by Adak, which does not have the funds or manpower to monitor such a huge pool of runners.

“It is simple: we need to do more tests,” Adak head Japhter Rugut told AFP.

Many race organisers cannot afford to run comprehensive drug tests for all competitors, so eschew it altogether.

Tony, another athlete who admits to doping, opts to compete in these races where scrutiny is low or non-existent. If there is testing in place, he avoids placing in the top three to evade suspicion, he said.

Tony trains in a squad of 15 runners in Iten – at least a quarter of whom are doping, he estimated.

“If people stop cheating, I’ll stop. I cheat because others have cheated,” said Tony, not his real name.

Alex, who started using EPO in 2017, said he had never been tested.

“In life, you have to take risks to win something reasonable,” he said.

Rugut said it was difficult to test “thousands and thousands” of athletes, so Adak was focusing on deterrence.

“If people think they can compete, and there is nobody to test them, they may be tempted,” he said.

Efforts to curb the supply of doping substances have been hamstrung in Kenya by lax regulation and the absence of a scheme to trace the drugs back to suppliers, hospitals and pharmacies.

Spot inspections are also rare, if ever.

“There’s no one there. There is no controlling body. It’s pretty easy as long as you have a license,” said the pharmacist in Eldoret, who declined to be named for fear of prosecution.

He admitted to selling EPO to athletes, without prescription, for years, legally importing the hormone from India used to treat patients with anaemia.

But his real customers are runners seeking to boost the amount of oxygen being carried by their blood.

In a September 2018 report, WADA described doping in Kenya as largely “opportunistic” and unsophisticated, listing EPO, corticosteroids and nandrolone as the drugs of choice.

But there can be serious consequences to doping.

The pharmacist said he was aware of the risks of misusing EPO – heart attacks, stroke and high-blood pressure have been associated with its misuse – but athletes did not care.

“They do it anyway, and they want it to exist,” he said.

“We do it for the money. In Kenya, you can do anything for money.”

Tony said he knew there were dangers “and I could die anytime”.

“But I take the risk, because I have to take care of myself and my brothers and sisters.”

Many athletes are convinced there is no point going clean, because the system is rigged from the top down.

“In Kenya, most people are corrupt. To get rid of doping or cheating in athletics, you have to fight corruption first,” said Tony.


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TV siren Lulu Hassan says she’s also victim of online shopping fraudsters



Lulu Hassan and her husband Rahid Abdalla wanted to buy a new television set

They contacted an online seller who offered to sell them TV that was bigger than the one they had at that time

Lulu left the house to pick the TV while Rashid was to prepare space where it would be fixed

– She returned home empty handed after handing over the money to the fraudster

Swahili news anchor Lulu Hassan has narrated a painful experience with online fraudsters who lured her to buying a television set that was nowhere.

While narrating the horrendous experience during the Sunday, January 19, news on Citizen TV, the fluent Swahili speaker said they wanted to buy a new television set, larger than the one they were using at that time.

Being a tech savvy, she and her husband Rashid Abdalla quickly looked for sellers via social media and got connected to a trader who offered to sell them the TV at a relatively cheaper price.

The two agreed to meet up for the transaction and since the TV was huge, she decided to go in a pickup for her to ferry it home with ease.

“I showed up for the meeting to transact with the trader, I went with a pickup car. I gave him the money and he told me just wait here shortly, let me go to the latrine. I never saw him again,” said Lulu.

Interestingly, all along her hubby was at home preparing the house for their newly acquired “huge TV”

To Rashid’s disappointment, his humble soft spoken wife showed up at home empty handed. No TV.

“I had removed the TV that we had and prepared space for the new one. To my surprise, she showed up at home with red eyes, I knew things were not good, the TV I had waited for was nowhere,” said Rashid.

Although she did not disclose how much she lost, Lulu suggested some of the fraudsters may be using same unorthodox means to lure their victims and steal their money without the customer suspecting anything.

“I don’t know how these people do it or what they use but from experience things are bad…However, not all of them are bad, there are others who genuinely sell quality products,” she said.

There is a tremendous rise in online shopping not only in Kenya but also across the world.

However, the more people join the online shopping, the more the risks and the higher the number of fraudsters.

Experts advise that you should not pay for a product until you see it. Check around and verify authenticity of an online shopper.

Stop shortcuts and go for genuine dealers or suppliers of products as majority of the fraudsters sell their products at very cheap prices to lure customers.

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Chris Kirubi advises fans against rushing into marriage, says they’ll get wrong partners



Chris Kirubi recently admitted having cancer brought him closer to God

Now, he feels like marriage should never be a rushed endeavour

The businessman advised his fans to always proceed with moderation and wait for the blessing of marriage to come at its own time

Kirubi added rushing into matrimony might cause people to marry the wrong partners

Chris Kirubi is a business mogul, an astute entrepreneur and a man after God’s heart.

However, people have always wondered how a successful guy like him chose not to search for his missing rib after being single for nearly two decades.

During an interview with Business Daily, the Cytonn Investments boss chose to clear the air on why his marital status has always been stuck on single.

The 79-year-old billionaire said he is not willing to chase after the idea of marriage just to please the society.

According to him, rushing into holy matrimony can only lead to a massive heartbreak.

Apparently, when people rush into marriage without sitting back and being patient, they end up getting hitched to the wrong person.

The tycoon reckons that marriage is a blessing but still insists everything happens in its own time.

“Marriage comes to you and it is a blessing, but you do not go chasing it around because you will get the wrong partner. If I am blessed then I will be blessed,” Kirubi said.

Not too long ago, the wealthy businessman admitted his battle with cancer brought him closer to God.

He has learnt God is the most powerful being who never abandons his children even at their lowest moments.

“It is a shame we always go to God when we need Him, but God will never turn you away because you came to Him later rather than earlier,” Kirubi noted.

By Tuko

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Prince Harry: It brings me great sadness that it has come to this – VIDEO




Britain’s Prince Harry conveyed “great sadness” on Sunday after he and his wife Meghan royal titles were taken away as part of their agreement with the Queen.

Harry says he saw this as the only way for him to go in the aim for “a more peaceful life” with his wife and young son Archie.

“It brings me great sadness that it has come to this,” Harry told supporters of his Africa-based charity in London.

These were his first emotional remarks since the exit from the royals whose goal was to calm the crisis shaking Britain’s ancient monarchy.

Harry was also frank in that he has been faced with some uneasiness and anxiety since taking the big step of resigning from his royal duties and embarking on a new journey and life abroad.

He was mentally prepared to lose the lavish lifestyle supported by the public money. But what pained him the most was losing his military titles and patronages he got after serving two tours in Afghanistan with the British Army.

The couple agreed to pay back approximately taxpayers money $3.1 million used to renovate their home near Windsor Castle.

“I know I haven’t always gotten it right but, as far as this goes, there really was no other option,” Harry said.



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