Just days before the start of the 2019 World Athletics Championships, new claims of widespread doping in Kenya have emerged. A report from Germany’s ZDF purports to show top athletes regularly use the endurance-boosting substance EPO in training.
The shoddily done documentary supposedly shows a Doctor who admits to treating eight runners in the documentary, is filmed saying: “No-one dopes directly before competitions, here they’re using EPO while training.”
But the Doctor’s face is obscured. Why on earth would ZDF obscure the Doctor’s face? Likely because the person is a paid actor and not a Doctor. Also the Doctor readily admits to a reporter that he is breaking the law and he does so in public. Why would a person breaking the law admit as much in public?
A subsequent scene filmed with a hidden camera shows supposed athletes in a clinic getting injections which the producers claim is EPO. No proof is offered to prove that EPO is being administered and yet again the faces of the Doctors and the athletes are obscured. Once again this is likely because the people in the scene are paid actors. Why would ZDF obscure the faces of guilty people?
The report is similar to one done by German reporter Hajjo Sepelt a few years back. Working for another TV station known as ARD, he did a report on both Russia and Kenya. While in Russia, he showed clear footage of Russian coaches and athletes admitting to doping. No faces were obscured. But when he did a report on doping in Kenya, all the faces were obscured.
If indeed the footage was of people receiving injections of banned drugs then both ARD and ZDF are doing Kenya a disservice by protecting people who are breaking the law. They are also doing the world athletics fraternity a disservice by protecting dopers. But it is likely that neither ZDF nor ARD has any proof of doping in Kenya. They are most likely using actors to pose as Doctors and Athletes.
The report by ZDF also suggests that there could be corrupt people within AK and the Anti-Doping body in Kenya who are helping the athletes break the law. A letter purporting to be from AK was posted on the ZDF website. It states that AK can secure freedom for athletes who are found guilty of doping.
AK have vehemently denied that they wrote the letter. As proof, they offered the fact that the word “Athletics” was mispelled as “Athetics” on the stamp.
Their goal is to create buzz for their news outlets by creating a sensational story. The report appeals to people who believe Kenya’s success in athletics is entirely built on doping. There have been calls by fans in Europe and North America to have Kenya banned from the 2019 world athletics. Even famous British marathoner Paula Radcliffe has called for further investigations based on the report as well as a temporary ban on Kenya based on these sensational and unproven allegations.
The purpose of this article is not to state that there is no doping in Kenya. The purpose is to shed light on the sensational and shoddy journalism exhibited by German news outlets ARD and ZDF. There are many people in western countries who badly want to believe that all of Kenya’s success is because of doping. It has not helped that numerous Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests recently. But the reality is that doping in Kenya is not any worse than it is in other countries.