Russian journalist says Kenyan athletes should be banned for doping

Russia is currently serving a 4-year ban imposed by WADA

High jump star Mariya Lasitskene and husband Vladas Lasitskas. © Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Sports journalist Vladas Lasitskas has questioned sports sanctions on his country Russia over doping incidents.

Irked at Russia's severe doping sanctions, the journalist opined that countries like Kenya and Ukraine have got off lightly.

"Let’s look at the Kenyans… where are the sanctions for the whole country?” Lasitskas, who is also the husband of Tokyo Olympic high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene, said in a recent interview with Match TV.

In 2019, Russia was handed a four-year ban from all major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

It meant the Russian flag and anthem would not be allowed at events such as the previously held Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and this year at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

There is, however, a provision for athletes who can prove they are untainted by the doping scandal to be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.

Russian officials have maintained that many of the allegations in recent years stem from an ulterior agenda, which has delayed efforts in addressing the bans and as a result, many athletes have missed out on prime opportunities to participate in competitions.

Kenya, which is particularly renowned for producing distance-running stars, has also faced persistent allegations of widespread doping.

According to a report by German public broadcaster ZDF released in 2019, 41 athletes are currently under sanctions due to doping allegations.

In 2021, a report released by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) indicated that sprinter, Mark Otieno Odhiambo failed two drug tests, one before and the other during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

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.

Kenya 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 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.

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