NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s long-serving athletics chief, Isaiah Kiplagat, has said he wants life bans for athletes who fail dope tests, a growing problem in the east African nation.
At least 36 Kenyan athletes have failed dope tests in the past two years. Kenyan government officials have blamed the growing doping cases on foreign agents and Athletics Kenya's (AK) failure to educate its athletes properly.
"The recent doping cases on our athletes have made me gain a deeper understanding of the vice and come to terms with the harsh realities of doping,” Kiplagat said late on Wednesday.
"I will propose lifetime bans for athletes caught cheating. If you are banned, you should not represent your country at the world championships or at the Olympics. You should stay at home forever,” Kiplagat added.
Speaking at the launch of his bid for the vice presidency of world athletics' ruling body, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Kiplagat said he was confident that lifetime bans for athletes and suspensions of agents would be enough to address the problem.
AK recently suspended two European agencies -- Rosa & Associati, run by Italian Gabriele Rosa, and Volare Sports, run by Dutchman Gerard van de Veen -- for six months pending investigations following doping claims.
Kenya's athletics community was recently rocked by a failed drugs test by Rita Jeptoo, the most prominent Kenyan athlete to fail a dope test in the last decade.
Jeptoo, a three times winner of the Boston marathon and twice winner of the Chicago race, has denied doping. She is managed by Rosa & Associati.
Kiplagat said he will step down from his Kenyan post from May 1 to embark on a global campaign for the IAAF vice presidency. The elections will be held in Beijing, China, during the world championships in August.
(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Toby Davis)