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Kamar Etyang’s dream Olympic appearance now hangs in the balance

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Kamar Etyang cried tears of joy at the finish line when he finished second at the Athletics Kenya trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games, but they could turn into tears of sadness with his fate in Kenya’s travelling team to Japan hanging in the balance.

Etyang had allegedly been plucked off the team by Athletics Kenya despite finishing in the top two automatic qualification slots with the reason being he had not gone through the mandatory three out of competition doping tests.

With Kenya being in the World Athletics as well as World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) category A doping watch list, all athletes are required to undergo at least three out of competition tests at least 10 months before a major event to ensure that only clean athletes are cleared.

Now, AK say that the 19-year old Etyang who hails from Turkana has not fulfilled this mandatory test. They are said to have asked for his withdrawal in favour of reigning world champion Timothy Cheruiyot who did not make the team after picking a hamstring strain in the final 50m of the trials.

Etyang has been visibly frustrated with the pending decision to possibly deny him the chance to don the Kenyan singlet for the first time and in a Whatsapp message making rounds he said; “…they want to remove me from the team, yet the first top three to cross the finish line automatically qualified to go for the Tokyo Olympics. To be sincere, it is really breaking my heart…”

However, Team Kenya General Manager Barnaba Korir as well as the National Olympic Committee of Kenya have stated that the matter is being worked upon.

“The athlete is currently in the residential bubble camp and continues to train. The specific matter is under very urgent investigation and action will be taken accordingly. Meanwhile, we are consulting with Athletics Kenya, the nominating authority of Team Kenya Athletics on the emerging matters,” a statement from Olympics Kenya stated.

Meanwhile, Korir said they are engaging with several authorities to put the matter to rest.

“I want to confirm that we are in talks with AIU to find a lasting solution on this matter. In the meantime, let us avoid speculation since Etyang is still in camp and we are still engaging AIU to consider such cases where youngsters who have not met anti-doping requirements crop up,” Korir stated.

Etyang’s case resonates that of youngster Daniel Simiyu who finished second at the national trials in Nairobi prior to the World Athletics Championship in 2019, but was denied the ticket for the same reasons.

Simiyu cried his heart out at the Nyayo National Stadium after being informed that he would not make the team. However, he bounced back this year and has made the Olympics team.

But, the athletics fraternity has laid the blame squarely on Athletics Kenya for the mess.

“They (AK) had clearly stated the rules for anyone to be invited for the trials. Among the yardsticks they put to invite athletes was this same doping rule. So in essence, any athlete who competed at the trials had passed the test to represent Kenya in the Olympics. What they are doing now is messing up the young boy’s mind,” a trusted athletics enthusiast who declined to be named has stated.

The Olympics team is currently training at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani before travelling for Tokyo and the matter is expected to be resolved soon.

Sources indicate that Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is not pleased with the bad press the story has created and is said to have sternly instructed NOCK and Athletics Kenya to sort out the issue once and for all.

Meanwhile, another athlete who has fallen victim of the Anti-Doping rules is 400m hurdler Moitalel Mpoke who is based in the United States. Mpoke had initially made the time to qualify for the Olympics but AK has said he is withdrawn from the team as he has not done the mandatory testes.

Mpoke says he has undergone the tests back in the United States, but in AK’s response, all the tests he underwent are not recognized by WADA standards.

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