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Kenya says absence of Russian runners won't change game plan
11:59, August 03, 2008

Kenya's athletics officials said the absence of Russian runners from the women's 800 meters race in Beijing will not change Kenyan runners' game plan.

National athletics head coach Julius Kirwa said Kenyan runners were planning on how to beat all their rivals, not just the Russians.

"We train athletes here for the Olympics and not to target just one or two opposition runners. So the issue of Russians' dope case should not be raised. My athletes are focused on doing well in Beijing irrespective on who will be running against them," said Kirwa according to a local daily, the Saturday Nation.

According to the newspaper, the sudden impressive timings posted by Russians in the women's 800m had been cause for concern in the Kenyan camp, where the top two runners in the distance this season, Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Jepkosgei, have been training.

The east African nation has never won a women's athletics gold medal at the Olympic Games, and the 800m race this season seems to have the best prospects to break the jinx.

World champion Jepkosgei and Jelimo, the world junior record holder and Africa champion will be looked upon to deliver gold for Kenya.

Jelimo, one of the two athletes remaining in the hunt for the lucrative IAAF Golden League jackpot of one million U.S. dollars has set a personal best and season best time of 1:54.99.

"It is business as usual here at the camp. We know what is required for us to win, it is in training and hard work, not other means," said Kirwa. But the coach is however disturbed by the cold weather condition in Nairobi.

With the team set to depart on Aug. 11, the athletes have to brave the cold conditions here yet they will be facing a humid and hot temperatures in Beijing Russia's Yelena Soboleva's time of 1:54.77 set at the Russian national championship, season best for a month, has now been scrapped pending the determination of her doping case.

Both athletes were engaged in training and Friday and declined to comment on the issue. Jepkosgei has set a personal best time of 1:58.74 this season.

Maryam Jamal (Bahrain) 1:58.66 and Lucia Klocova (Slovakia) 1:58.89 also have fast times. Soboleva and six other Russian athletes have been charged under IAAF rules 32.2 (b) and 32.2 (e) for fraudulent substitution of urine, which is both a prohibited method and also a form of tampering with the doping control process.

The rule violations were established following the deliberate storage of samples by the IAAF and re-analysis using comparative DNA techniques, and were the result of a specific investigation which was instigated and carried out by the IAAF for more than a year.

The IAAF will make no further comment until a final decision has been taken by the Russia athletics federation, which now takes over the responsibility to adjudicate these cases.

Athletes provisionally suspended by the IAAF are Svetlana Cherkasova (800m), Yulia Fomenko (1500m), Gulfiya Khanafeyeva (hammer), Darya Pishchalnikova (discus), Yelena Soboleva (800m - 1500m), Tatyana Tomashova (1500m) and Olga Yegorova (1500m - 5000m).

Source: Xinhua

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