East Africa

Wada warns Kenya: comply with anti-doping rules or risk Olympics ban


Kenya has been warned to comply with World Anti-Doping Agency rules by early April to avoid the risk of its athletes being banned from the Olympic Games in Rio.

Kenya, which won 11 medals at London 2012 and finished top of the medal table at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, has been granted an extension until 5 April to comply with global regulations after the Kenyan government failed to pass appropriate anti-doping legislation by a deadline earlier this month.

Wada had requested Kenya pass legislation and provide adequate funding towards anti-doping by 11 February but despite receiving verbal assurances that the new Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya was to be established, it has yet to become operational. The issue has been referred to Wada’s independent review unit which will make a recommendation about Kenya’s compliance on 12 May.

In November the Wada president, Dick Pound, said it was “pretty clear that there are a lot of performance-enhancing drugs being used” in Kenya, and if the country is ruled non-compliant by Wada it risks its athletes being banned for Rio. Such a decision would rest with the International Olympic Committee and no federation has ever been suspended from a Games because of non-compliance with anti-doping.

A Wada spokesman said: “The draft bill, policy and regulations submitted by Kenya are not in line with the [Wada] code. The formal adoption of these three legal instruments needs to be done only once Wada considers them to be in line with the code. The matter will be reviewed by the independent compliance review committee at its next meeting on 5 April, and consideration will be given to a possible recommendation of non-compliance to Wada’s foundation board on 12 May.

“The fact that this has now been passed on to our independent compliance process is certainly a warning sign, and highlights the absolute importance of having a robust, independent national anti-doping organisation up and running in Kenya at the earliest opportunity.”

Kenya has been dogged by allegations of widespread doping and there is a fear its athletes could be banned from competing in Rio. In November a group of young Kenyan athletes barricaded themselves inside official headquarters to protest against alleged corruption and doping.

On Monday the International Association of Athletics Federations’ ethics board suspended the chief executive of Athletics Kenya, Isaac Mwangi, after allegations he requested a bribe to reduce the doping suspensions of two athletes. Three other officials – David Okeyo, Isaiah Kiplagat and Joseph Kinyua – have also been provisionally suspended, but all four deny wrongdoing.

Wada insiders believe Kenya is beginning to take the matter seriously, although they are concerned at the slow pace of reform. A parliamentary bill needs to be passed outlining new anti-doping regulations before Kenya is deemed compliant with the Wada code but bureaucratic complications have delayed this.

On Friday the government confirmed £2.1m had already been committed to Adak, that staff were looking to move into offices by April and that the validation of a new bill will take place on 24 February before publication on 2 March.

Wada believes the latest delay will be a significant warning for Kenya. If it is deemed non-compliant in May, the anti-doping body can have an individual from the country taken off its board and remove accreditation from any official laboratory in Kenya.

It is up to the IOC to rule on any Olympic suspension. In November the IAAF banned Russia from international competition following the scandal of state-sponsored doping, but they are expected to be made eligible for a return before the Games in Brazil.

An IOC spokesperson said: “Wada and the NOC of Kenya are working together to ensure compliance is met.

“The IOC will lend its support to both organisations. We remain confident that the efforts of Wada and the NOC are successful ahead of the Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016.”

Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president, told BT last week: “We know a disproportionate amount of reputational damage is caused by a relatively few countries and we have to be much more proactive. If it means pulling them out of world championships or Olympic Games then we will have to do that. I know the World Anti-Doping Agency has looked very closely at the Kenyan National Anti-Doping Agency. We, of course, monitor that through the IAAF, so that work is ongoing.”

Barnaba Korir, an executive from Athletics Kenya, said recently that he feared the IAAF would ban the country. He said: “My belief is the IAAF are preparing us for a ban. If they are able to ban Russia, what is so special about Kenya? They want to send a clear message that if Kenya is banned the world will understand how serious they are.”

The Guardian

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