LYNSEY Sharp has called for an investigation into the drug-testing system in Kenya, claiming systematic doping is not a problem limited to Russia.
And the European and Commonwealth 800 metres silver medallist insists there is no way Russia should be allowed to return to international competition in time for the Rio Olympics in August.
The Scot, one of the leading names in a new-look 23-strong Great Britain team for this week’s World Indoor Championships in Portland, was denied gold at the European Championships in 2012 by Russian Yelena Arzhakova, later exposed as a drug cheat. She only received her rightful medal 18 months later.
The event at the Oregon Convention Center will be the first global championships since Russia was banned after an investigation by a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission revealed systematic doping.
World governing body the IAAF ruled last week that Russia was not yet ready to return to the fold and president Lord Coe warned five other countries – Kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia, Ukraine and Belarus – they could also be banned unless they improved their drug-testing procedures.
Sharp said: “Having been in Kenya and having heard stories about Kenya I 100 per cent think that there needs to be far more investigation into their system.
“I think it’s not just Russia. It shouldn’t just be seen as them because there are bigger issues.”
The IAAF’s ruling council will meet again in May to decide whether Russia should be readmitted to competition in time for Rio.
But Sharp’s assessment of the situation is clear.
“I think so,” she said when asked if Russia should miss the Games.
“It’s March so they have only a few months to show they have a (robust anti-doping) system.
“If they don’t have a system until now then who knows what they could be taking just now. It needed to be done more than a few months in advance.
“I was really proud of them (the IAAF) for putting that ban in place, because that’s the only way they’re going to get on top of it.
“I just hope they aren’t allowed back until they can be trusted to have a system in place. It’s so deep-rooted.
“I would walk away before I would take drugs, whereas other people would make the choice to take drugs rather than walk away.”
Russia finished second in the medal table at the last World Indoors in Sopot two years ago, with three golds among their five medals.
Sweden’s Ethiopian-born Abeba Aregawi took the 1500m crown on that occasion, but will not defend her title after testing positive for meldonium, the same substance as Maria Sharapova. Ukraine’s 800m runner Nataliya Lupu is also absent after a positive test for meldonium, having previously served a nine-month ban from 2014-15.
“It annoys me that she’s only back from a ban for 14 months,” Sharp added.
“Until we have lifetime bans we’re not going to have anything to stop people. They’re just taking the mick out of the sport.
“If you keep letting people back after a nine-month ban it’s not much of a deterrent.”
The 25-year-old goes into the 800m heats tomorrow ranked fifth in the world but insists that, as a relative newcomer to racing indoors, she is viewing the competition as a “stepping stone” to Rio rather than a real chance to add to her medal collection.