Kenya faces sanctions over doping

By: AYUMBA AYODI

Kenya’s future in athletics hangs in the balance with World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) expected to take drastic action against the country on Sunday after the Kenyan government failed to act on the doping menace.

Wada is due to issue a statement addressing the state of doping in Kenya and Russia from Geneva, Switzerland. The development saw the Kenyan government, which has been accused of dragging its feet on the matter, move to convene a crisis meeting at Riadha House on Saturday.

A source at the athletics global governing body IAAF disclosed that Kenya is likely to be suspended for four years and could miss major events in athletics next year, including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the World Junior Championships.

The address by Wada comes days after former IAAF president Lamine Diack was arrested by the French authorities, who said that they were investigating him on the suspicion that he had taken bribes from Russia to cover up positive doping tests. A French prosecutor told the media that the amount involved was about Sh120 million.

“Things are not good and I fear for Kenya and its athletes,” said the source. “Wada is definitely going to take action, especially after the arrest of Diack.”

Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) chairman James Waweru met top officials from Athletics Kenya (AK), National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Noc-K) and Africa Zone Five Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (Rado).

While Waweru acknowledged that the government had not fulfilled certain conditions set by Wada, he said there are measures that have been taken to establish a robust and autonomous National Anti-doping Agency (Nada).

“The government is yet to formalise Adak’s activities but that is coming soon since Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario is handling the issue,” said Waweru, adding that “some issues are not conducted by one office, hence the delay of the process.”

Meanwhile, Noc-K chairman Kipchoge Keino, who attended the impromptu meeting, did not mince his words as he accused the Ministry of Sports of laxity even after Wada’s several warnings on doping as far back as last year.

“I personally warned the government after I attended Wada meetings in South Africa last year and during the 50th Anniversary in Tokyo,” Keino said.

“I outlined to them all the requirements but the ministry has all along ignored them. “The country now faces a serious backlash and innocent athletes are bound to suffer.”

The athletics legend said they really want to give Adak support and take a stand on the issue of doping as a country. Keino’s sentiments are supported by Wada director-general David Howman, who was quoted by the media taking issue with the Kenyan government.

“There’s just no political will for it, even though they’ve been encouraged, persuaded, cajoled by us,” Howman said of Wada’s effort to help Kenya to put anti-doping measures into effect over the past two-plus years. “It’s reached a crisis point, really.”

Wada said Adak existed only in name, hence Kenya cannot assure the world that any of its athletes is drug-free — at least based on evidence collected by its national anti-doping programme. Howman said a bigger issue was that the regional anti-doping agency that monitors Kenyans was stretched thin and conducted “very limited testing”.

ONLY WARIO CAN EXPLAIN

Waweru, who was hard pressed to explain why the government had dragged its feet, said it was only CS Wario could could do so.

Sports federations had accused the government of not involving them when it formed Adak several months ago. That saw some former athletes take the government to court over the composition of the anti-doping agency. However, Waweru said Nada has been charged with the drafting of an anti-doping policy and Bill, which are currently being subjected to scrutiny by various stakeholders before approval by the parliament and operationalistaion of Adak.

“The government is working to fast-track the legislation process,” said Waweru in a joint statement after the meeting. He said the government had so far spent Sh1.5 million on anti-doping programmes and activities, singling out the raid by Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board on some medical practitioners who were arrested for aiding doping. However, none of those arrested have been charged and Waweru was not in a position to explain.

Close to 30 Kenyan athletes have failed dope tests in the past three years with the 2014 World Relay 4×800 metres silver medallist Agatha Jeruto being the latest culprit.

She was handed a four-year ban last month. Sprinters Joyce Sakari and Francisca Koki are awaiting punishment after testing positive to banned substances at the World Championships in Beijing.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION