RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Kenya achieved its most successful Olympics despite the doping and organisational challenges that nearly derailed its appearance in Rio de Janeiro.
With six golds, six silvers and one bronze medal, Kenya finished second only to United States in the athletics table, making South America’s first Olympic Games its best outing so far.
Kenya’s athletics pedigree has been tainted by up to 40 runners failing dope tests in the past four years. Its struggle to convince authorities it was taking the issue seriously threatened its participation in Rio.
Kenya’s president in April signed into law a bill criminalising doping that was demanded by the World Anti-Doping Agency to avoid a Rio ban and the government has promised a tighter rein in the future.
Even during the Games, Kenya’s Olympic committee sent home a sprinting coach after he was accused of posing as an athlete to doping testers. The coach said he had borrowed an accreditation pass to seek a meal in the athletes’ village.
Kenya’s athletics manager was sent home from the Olympics and is being detained while police investigate allegations that he had warned athletes before the Games about drugs tests in return for cash. He denies any wrongdoing.
Those concerns, plus a row over the availability of kit for the athletes, faded into the background, however, once the competition began.
Kenya’s David Rudisha obliterated his rivals in the 800 metres final to become the first man since 1964 to retain his Olympic title over the distance.
Kenya also took gold in the men’s and women’s marathon with Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong; Vivian Cheruiyot won the women’s 5,000m; Faith Kipyegon won the women’s 1,500m and Conseslus Kipruto won the men’s steeplechase.
Kenyans had called for the resignation of the sports minister, Hassan Wario, after the two doping scandals broke during the Games but he was quoted by the Sunday Nation as saying: ”I had no control of the management in Rio. Kenyan Olympic officials are a law unto themselves.
“I was taking taxis when these officials were being chauffeured in limousines. We will propose a legislation to give government more control of team management in future Olympics...”
Kenya’s Chef De Mission Stephen arap Soi has said he will account for everything that took place in Rio. “I am aware of the concerns, but as team leader, whatever I did was in the best interest of the nation,” he told Reuters.
Editing by Alison Williams