Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya chief executive Japhter Rugut has warned athlete they still face testing despite the pandemic ©Getty Images

The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) has warned athletes that its testing programme has not been "scaled down" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief executive Japhter Rugut has issued an update on ADAK's activities and response to the pandemic in which he urged that "no athlete mislead themselves or others that the doping control process has been scaled down."

Sample collection and analysis is still being carried out, Rugut insists.

ADAK has put in place "safety measures and regulations which are in line with the National Government advice", but that has not stopped it testing athletes.

The pandemic and orders encouraging social distancing have made anti-doping operations harder, with UK Anti-Doping, the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the Spanish Agency for Health Protection in Sport among the national anti-doping organisations to have reduced or stopped testing in recent weeks as a result.

Rugut says that ADAK has carried out in excess of 3,800 tests since it was founded in 2016 and is "working around the clock" to "ensure there is a clean sporting environment".

A number of Kenyan athletes have been accused of doping violations in recent years, raising concerns over the prevalence of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the country.

High-profile runners Asbel Kiprop, Cyrus Rutto and Abraham Kiptum were all handed four-year bans last year.

Wilson Kipsang, who once held the marathon world record, was provisionally suspended earlier this year, with 2017 London Marathon winner Daniel Wanjiru provisionally suspended earlier this month and charged with using a prohibited substance by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

A volunteer in Kenyan capital Nairobi demonstrates how to wear a facemask ©Getty Images
A volunteer in Kenyan capital Nairobi demonstrates how to wear a facemask ©Getty Images

More than 45 Kenyans who compete in athletics are currently serving suspensions, according to the AUI database.

"Isolated incidents of athletes caught violating the anti-doping rules are unfortunate and inexcusable," Rugut says.

"However, these shall not dampen the resolve to continue promoting clean sport as such violations are attributable to lack of disciple and ignorance by the athletes in question."

Rugut added that "ADAK will not hesitate to impose stiffer penalties to those athletes who wish to make a mockery of the doping control process", warning those currently serving a period of ineligibility not to break the terms of that suspension.

Citizens and athletes were also instructed by Rugut to follow Government guidelines designed to curb the spread of coronavirus, which include a dusk-to-dawn curfew but are set to be scaled back.

Kenya has so far reported 363 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths, with ADAK wishing those who are ill a speedy recovery.

"Kenya prides itself on immeasurable sporting talent and all parties are urged to endeavor to compete and win right," Rugut concluded.

"Despite the few athletes who have chosen to violate anti-doping rules, many of our athletes are willing to go to greater lengths to demonstrate that they are serious about clean sport."