The government is adhering to a “zero tolerance” approach as it urges the world’s governing body for athletics not to ban athletes.
The Kenyan government is urging world athletics not to ban the country from the sport, promising to step up its fight against the use of banned substances after a series of athletes were suspended for doping.
The East African country is world famous for its middle and long distance runners, who have won numerous gold medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships and set record times. Kenya is ranked third in the medal tally for athletics at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The country has faced accusations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs for years, but the athletics powerhouse has recently been hit by a growing number of runners who have tested positive for the virus. The country has faced accusations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs for years
Kenya’s sports ministry issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging the “doping crisis” and saying Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba had written to global athletics chief Sebastian Coe and “urging” the board not to ban Kenya.
“The government is taking strict measures to protect and uphold the integrity of athletics,” Kenya’s sports ministry said. She added that the Kenyan government “deals with it as a matter of major strategic national interest.”
A ban would leave athletes unable to compete globally, jeopardize athletes’ plans for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and severely damage the country’s reputation in sport.
“We will not allow unethical individuals to ruin Kenya’s reputation through doping,” Namwamba said on Twitter on Friday. “We must defeat doping and its perpetrators.”
The Daily Nation reported that the government had told the board that it had set aside an annual sum of $5 million over the next five years for anti-doping.
Namwamba said she also has a “zero tolerance” commitment to doping.
The World Athletics Decision-Making Council is reportedly set to meet in Rome next week, where Kenya is likely to be discussed.
Fifty-five Kenyan athletes are currently banned and 8 provisionally suspended, according to the Athletics Safety Unit (AIU), an independent body set up by World Athletics to combat doping in the sport.
Kenya is a Category A country under world athletics anti-doping rules, which means athletes must undergo at least three urine and blood tests without notice, out of competition before major events. There are currently seven Category A countries, including Belarus, Ethiopia and Ukraine.
Among the Kenyans caught using banned substances are 2021 Boston Marathon winner Diana Kibioki and compatriot Betty Wilson Limbus, who were both suspended last month for their use of triamcinolone acetonide.
In April, Kenya’s 2014 Commonwealth Games and African 10,000m champion Joyce Chepkerui was banned for four years due to a sporting biological passport difference dating back to 2019.
Kenya’s doping problems have been documented for at least a decade and its national anti-doping programme, which had been proven ineffective and accused of corruption, was given a major overhaul in 2016 when Kenya’s new Anti-Doping Agency (ADAK) was overhauled. ) was established.
The National Track Union has also been implicated in doping-related corruption.
The authorities have largely blamed the cases on small groups of what they refer to as “criminal elements” who make money selling banned performance-enhancing substances to Kenyan runners. Kenya has moved to criminalize doping.