Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto was earnest in his address which was much celebrated among the athletes.
A fat state envelope awaits every star performer who will fly the national flag high during the Rio games next month he said. For the dope cheats, who tarnish the Country’s image, tough punishment awaits warned.
“Kenya is known worldwide for her athletics prowess and this is why we recalled Parliament from recess to pass the anti-doping legislation because we want to run clean sports,” Ruto told athletes and officials at the Olympic trials on Friday.
“Anybody caught in any future doping scandal will be jailed for three years or fined 3 million Kenyan shilling ($29,721) because we want to get rid of crooked people misleading our athletes from our midst,” he said.
The east African nation known for middle and long distance running excellence has been under global scrutiny after more than 40 Kenyan athletes failed dope tests in the past four years, with 18 of them serving various sanctions.
An anti-doping legislation that is in line with the WADA code has since been signed into law, although International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) insists that Kenyan and Russian athletes who qualify for the Olympics will have to be screened afresh.
Local athletes have often blamed the government and Athletics Kenya (AK) for doing little to educate them on the doping issues, while the latter have blamed foreign agents managing Kenyan athletes for doping.
The deputy president said the government has increased the award package for Olympics medal winners to one million Kenyan shilling for gold medals, 750,000 for silver and 500,000 for bronze.
Teams winning gold medals will be rewarded with 500,000 Kenyan shillings.
The nation has since nominated a team of 50 athletes (including reserves) to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The team features all seven of Kenya’s IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 champions: David Rudisha, Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi, Nicholas Bett, Julius Yego, Vivian Cheruiyot and Hyvin Kiyeng.
Additions can be made to the team before the July 11 deadline, pending any further qualifiers. A third runner in the men’s 5000m will also be named at a later date.
With files from Reuters, Citizen and other agencies