Kenya could be banned from athletics due to the doping scandal.
Government commits to a ‘zero tolerance’ approach as it urges the world athletics governing body not to ban its athletes.
Kenya’s 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 its athletes were suspended for doping.
The East African country is world-renowned for its middle and long-distance runners, who have won numerous gold medals at Olympic Games and World Championships and clocked up record times. Kenya ranked third in the athletics medal haul at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Although the nation has long been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs extensively, the athletics powerhouse has recently been shaken by an increase in the number of its runners who test positive. For years, the nation has been accused of using large amounts of performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Kenyan Ministry of Sports acknowledged the “doping dilemma” and stated that Minister of Sports Ababu Namwamba had written to World Athletics President Sebastian Coe to “pleading” with him not to ban Kenya.
According to the Kenyan sports ministry, “government is taking strong measures to defend and uphold the integrity of athletics.” According to the statement, the Kenyan government “treats it as a matter of top strategic national interest.”
A ban would prevent its athletes from competing internationally, put its
Namwamba stated on Twitter on Friday that “we will not permit unscrupulous persons to tarnish Kenya’s reputation through doping.” “We must stop doping and the people that do it.”
According to the Daily Nation newspaper, the government has informed the governing body that it has pledged $5 million each year for the next five years to the fight against doping.
In addition, “zero tolerance” for doping was a pledge, according to Namwamba.
Fifty-five Kenyan athletes are currently banned and eight provisionally suspended, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body formed by World Athletics to combat doping in the sport.
Kenya is a Category A country under the Anti-Doping Rules of World Athletics, which means its athletes must undergo at least three no-notice, out-of-competition urine and blood tests 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 Kipyokei and compatriot Betty Wilson Lempus, who were provisionally suspended last month for using triamcinolone acetonide.
In April, Kenya’s 2014 Commonwealth Games and Africa 10,000 metres champion Joyce Chepkirui was banned for four years for an Athlete Biological Passport discrepancy dating back to 2019.
Kenya’s doping problems have been documented for at least a decade and its national anti-doping programme, which was shown to be ineffective and was accused of being corrupt, was given a major overhaul in 2016 when the new Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) was established.
The national track federation has also been implicated in doping-related corruption.
Authorities have largely attributed the problems to a few, so-called “criminal elements,” who profit from the sale of illegal performance-enhancing drugs to Kenyan runners. Doping will soon be considered a crime in Kenya.