Coach Julius Kirwa, who is preparing Team Kenya for World Championships set for London, is a worried man.
On Saturday, Kirwa disclosed that he does not know the whereabouts of four members of his team – 2017 World Cross Country champion Irene Cheptai, 2015 World Cross Country champion Agnes Jebet, 2013 World 800m champion Eunice Sum and African Games 5000m gold medallist Margaret Chelimo – who have failed to report to camp for training.
Kirwa warned that several Kenyan athletes risk being locked out of the London World Championships due August 4-13 for failing to meet IAAF requirement of at least three mandatory out-of-competition doping tests before the event.
The head coach, who took issue with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) for failing to properly plan for the doping tests, also sought clarification over the fate of 800m athlete Michael Saruni, who has since left camp after press reports indicated that he had been dropped from the team.
Kirwa also raised the red flag in men’s 3,000m steeplechase after Olympic champion Conselsus Kipruto failed to finish his race in Rabat Diamond League race last Sunday as 2015 Diamond League Series winner Jairus Birech fell to American Evan Jager in Monaco on Friday.
Kirwa has since asked Athletics Kenya to replace Cheptai, Jebet, Sum and Chelimo immediately after they failed to report to camp. Team Kenya reported to camp at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, a week ago.
“We haven’t heard from the athletes since the national trials and we don’t know where they are and their state,” said Kirwa adding that it has become difficult to plan with them in mind noting that they will have the shortest time ever in camp before leaving for London.
“AK must take decisive action against them.”
Kirwa said they will have a short camp owing to the just-concluded World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi. “We won’t go deep in training over the short time but we hope the personalised training the athletes had with their respective coaches after the trials will help,” said Kirwa.
Kirwa said Adak should have concentrated on testing Team Kenya World Championships’ probables instead of administering random tests so as to avoid any repercussions from IAAF or World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). “Adak should have planned well, considering what is at stake,” Kirwa said.
Saruni, who finished third during the World trials behind Emmanuel Korir and Kipyegon Bett, left camp immediately after news went out about his replacement that saw him moved to 400m.
Kirwa said Saruni has not attained qualifying time in 400m. The 800m team selection was complicated by two wild cards given to World champion David Rudisha and Diamond League Series winner Ferguson Rotich.
Initially, AK had named the three top athletes from the trials alongside Rotich, who finished fifth and only brought in Rudisha later to make a team of five.
“It’s my opinion that we should have consulted further on events where Kenya had more than two athletes eligible for the wild card rather than basing the selection on the first three across the line,” said Kirwa.
The qualifying deadline is at midnight on July 31.