East Africa

Banning Kenya from Rio Olympics would be world sports dilemma

Kenya Athletic

Would the Rio Games be of the same quality without the best athletes from all countries competing? 

The World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee and the International Association of Athletics Federations are facing a real dilemma. Having pushed Kenya towards improving its anti-doping environment, the question remains whether to follow through and deliver the ultimate sanction – disqualification from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Such a move would potentially prove disastrous for Kenyan sport. Athletes would lose the opportunity of participating in the most prestigious event. Months, even years, of planning would feel wasted. The economic rewards would be lost. The reputational damage would be enormous and a huge shadow would be cast over the country’s involvement in other international events.
The arguments for such a move are clear. Media investigations claim to show widespread doping. More than 40 athletes have failed drugs tests since 2011 and 18 are currently serving bans. Some highly successful male and female athletes are now associated with doping and cheating. Only six months ago, former World Anti-Doping Agency President Dick Pound said it was “pretty clear there are a lot of performance-enhancing drugs being used” in Kenya. Some of these allegations go back four years.

Kenya’s non-compliance would mean it had not fulfilled all the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code. These include having an effective independent national anti-doping organisation to oversee testing, education, sanctions and appeals. Subsequent legal amendments made by Kenya on specific recommendations would, it appears, result in the country being declared compliant and thus able to compete in the Olympics. But this remains to be seen.


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