Carl Lewis calls for universal push against doping

Nairobi, Feb 28: Carl Lewis, nine-time Olympic and eight-time World champion, has called for a universal crisis management and testing system to be implemented to rescue athletics from doping.

Speaking Thursday during a one-day tour to Kenya as a keynote speaker of IBM Business Connect 2014 in Nairobi, the retired American athlete accused world body IAAF and member federations of lacking a coordinated approach to deal with the substance abuse menace.

“They should focus on what is the most important thing for our business model to be successful. We can care about people, that really where it starts unless you have a core understanding of what you are trying to accomplish you can’t do it. If you don’t know the question how can you have the answer that is what is wrong,” he told local station Capital FM in an interview.

“Track and field flounders in this area if we don’t know what to do if we have drug problems, we can’t do anything, we are afraid of it, no! We have to be serious!”

Lewis, who was speaking in a country that has come under investigation by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for a rise in doping cases, claimed lack of a universal drug testing procedure was fuelling the scourge.

“Five years ago, I said that there was inconsistency in a lot of programmes around the world and they asked me about Jamaica and I said they are not testing the same way like the rest of the world is.

“Until they do that, they will not have credibility. What happens five years later? They announced last year they did not test anyone for six months because they said they did not have the money,” he added.

The retired legend called on authorities to save the credibility of sport by sensitising the masses on the fool proof measures in place to combat substance abuse such as biological passports.

“I believe, there is no plan, there is no global idea of what to do and they are not telling their message.

“One thing we have is the passport where they test you and continue to test your sample years in advance and that be the one I would be trumping right now saying look, we are so concerned and we will take down our top guy if we have to,” he said.

WADA bosses have visited Kenya in recent months to press the country’s government to investigate the spike in positive drug tests among runners, 17 since January 2012.

Sports, Arts and Culture cabinet secretary Hassan Wario promised a report with the findings of the National Anti-Doping Task Force he set up last November would be released in early March.

Business Connect brought together over 350 influencers from the Kenyan technology industry and the public sector to discuss the latest trends in field with an emphasis on cloud computing, analytics, social business and mobility.

Lewis gave an inspirational talk to the group relating his wide experience in athletics to the rapidly shifting changes in the technology space.

IANS