Feels like every month of the last half of 2018 has gone by with a new story about a prominent Kenyan athlete getting busted for using performance-enhancing drugs that’s because that’s exactly what’s been happening.
For the fifth time in as many months another young, prominent, and successful Kenyan athlete has been caught red handed taking advantage of performance-enhancing drugs.
Kipyegon Bett, just 20 years old but already one of the best middle distance runners in the world, has been suspended from competition internationally and domestically for the next four years. This is following up on a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs according to information released by the IAAF Athletics Integrity Unit.
A number of Kenyan athlete have had a bit of trouble with performance-enhancing drugs in the last three or four years, but the last five months of 2018 have been jampacked with busts of prominent athletes – particularly in the middle distance racing arena. Two other middle distance runners (Asbel Kiprop and Samuel Kalalei) were busted alongside Boniface Mweresa (a sprinter) and Lucy Kabuu (a marathon runner).
Each and every one of them have been caught red handed using performance-enhancing drugs, and each of them have been slapped with the same four-year suspension from competition.
Bett in particular was seen as one of the true rising stars in the world of Kenyan athletics. He was just coming off of a gold medal in the 800 m event at the 2016 World Under 20 Championships that was hosted in Poland this year. He had collected a bronze medal at the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championship in London as well.
Many believed that Bett was a shoe in for gold at the upcoming Summer Olympics, in that (since he was just 20 years old) he had the entire world of opportunity in front of him when it came to middle distance running competitions.
Now it’s unclear if he’ll ever have an opportunity to compete at the highest level ever again, as by the time his four-year suspension has been served he’ll inevitably be four years older and up against much younger athletes that have been going head-to-head against the best in the business for that same stretch of time.
Each and every one of the other four Kenyan athletes that have been suspended in this same five month stretch of time were also decorated athletes. A number of them had won medals – including gold and silver medals – at the Beijing Olympics, and all of them had reached a podium in the last two years of international competition and were seen as some of the best athletes in their specific field anywhere in the world.
As highlighted above, all of them will end up facing four-year suspension which will likely not all of them out of the highest level of competition due to each of them being older than 20-year-old Bett.
In the past 14 years, the World Anti-Doping Agency has discovered that just about 140 different Kenyan athlete testing positive for some type of performance-enhancing drugs, using masking agents to avoid detection, or flat out refusing to take the mandatory tests for these kinds of substances.
The most popular forms of performance-enhancing drugs used by Kenyan athletes include nandrolone, corticosteroids, EPO and clenbuterol, the same kinds of performance-enhancing drugs that are used by top athletes around the world looking to gain an edge and an advantage over their international competition.
It’s impossible to know what the future holds for an athlete like Bett, but hopefully he is able to learn from this lesson and bounce back stronger for it. Only time will tell.