Kiprop positive test a major blow for Kenya
THE emergence of the Kenyans to dominate world distance running is one of the great romantic stories of athletics. Ever since Amos Biwott, Kip Keino and Naftali Temu made the breakthrough with a gold, silver and bronze at the Mexico Olympics in 1968, the East African country has produced some of the sport’s greats.
What made the achievements of Rudisha and Ngugi, of Kemboi and Cheruiyot all the more appealing was the back story. In a world where the media image of Africa is of a dystopia bedevilled by disease, poverty and war, the Kenyan athletes showed another face of the continent.
Yet in recent years it’s been impossible to ignore the cloud overhanging Kenyan athletics. There have been several high-profile doping offences which suggested Kenya is one of the sport’s worst offenders. But the news Asbel Kiprop has tested positive for EPO may deal the final blow to our illusions about Kenyan running.
Kiprop was one of their very greatest, a three-time World and once Olympic champion over 1,500m. His positive test is as shocking in terms of Kenyan athletics as Ben Johnson’s was to the world of sprinting. It’s a sad time for one of the world’s great sporting traditions.
THERE is just one book which I have reread constantly over the years. It’s been a good friend to me and I’m on my third battered copy. The book is called
Running Is Easy and it was written by Bruce Tulloh who was a cult figure back in the 1960s when he won the European 5,000m title in his bare feet.
Running Is Easy was the book that set me jogging after the birth of my first daughter 16 years ago. His style was friendly, sensible and inspirational in an understated English manner. My commitment has waxed and waned and the weight has fluctuated but I always find my way back and when I do I know that if I follow Bruce’s ‘First Steps’ advice I’ll soon be back in the groove.
I often intended to write to Bruce and thank him for the help. Or, to be more accurate, I had a fantasy that some day we might bump into each other and I’d thank him in person. That won’t happen now because he died last week at the age of 82 of cancer. Which goes to show you should thank people when you have the chance. Anyway, thanks Bruce. You made my life a lot better.
IN the rush to deride Real Madrid’s home performance against Bayern Munich, their achievement in qualifying for a third Champions League final in a row has been overlooked. It’s 42 years since Bayern Munich became just the third team in European Cup, as it was then, history to complete a hat-trick.
They were outplayed in the 1976 final by St Etienne but won 1-0. The previous year Leeds dominated possession, were denied a stonewall penalty and had a goal disallowed before Bayern struck late to win 2-0. And the year before that it took a goal in injury-time of extra-time to give Bayern a final draw against Atletico Madrid before they won the replay.
The truly great teams always seem to ride their luck.