If you are an athlete and you love herbal medicine, think again!
Kenyan marathon champion, Felix Kirwa has landed in trouble and received a nine months suspension for doping. However, the issue is that he doped unknowingly. Like many Africans, Felix loves herbal medicine, but unknown to him, it contained a banned substance.
The athlete won the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in 2016 and finished second-place in last year’s edition of the same competition. He has been banned for nine months and disqualified from his second-place finish at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon last December.
Felix Kirwa tested positive to strychnine, a substance sometimes used as rat poison.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said Kirwa would be banned until November 14 and was disqualified from his second-place finish at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon last December.
Kirwa informed the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) that he had been taking herbal medicines that included the banned substance and the AIU said the presence of strychnine in his sample was consistent with that explanation.
Strychnine is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list because it is a stimulant. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was used in small doses as an athletic performance enhancer and recreational stimulant.
After winning the 2016 marathon in Singapore, the then 23-year-old who fought off the humidity and the competition to clinch the top prize of S$50,000 in his maiden race in Singapore had said:
"Singapore is a very hot race, I've never run a hot race like today before," he said, adding he only realized he might win at around the 40km mark.
"I was not expecting to win this race, there were so many Kenyans and the race was very competitive.”
You will agree that Kenya, a country which is known for its long-distance runners has been hit with multiple bans and sanctions in recent times as a result of doping violations. Could it be as a result of herbal medicine intake?
You will recall that three-time world 1,500 meters champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Asbel Kiprop was banned for four years in April for failing a doping test in November 2017.
Herbal medicines can cause kidney failure and liver damage in some consumers because they contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals, or react harmfully with other drugs, a study has found.
Header Image Photo: The Straits Times