NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency has given Kenya a final deadline of May 2 to bring its program in line with the global code or risk an international ban.
Kenya missed its second deadline this year on Tuesday, when an independent compliance review committee decided Kenya's anti-doping program was still "not in compliance" with the global code, WADA said in a statement on Thursday.
Unless Kenya passes doping legislation and formally adopts regulations for its new national anti-doping body by next month, the review committee will ask WADA's board to declare it non-compliant, WADA said. The WADA board meets in Montreal on May 12.
Although being non-compliant with WADA's rules doesn't immediately affect Kenyan athletes, it could spur the IAAF to consider further sanctions, including a possible international ban on the East African nation with a rich history of distance running champions.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe has not ruled out further action against Kenya if the country has serious problems with its anti-doping program. The IAAF last year banned Russia from international athletics after WADA declared it non-compliant because of corrupt activity by anti-doping and athletics authorities.
WADA's decision gave Kenya a little over three weeks to pass the law criminalizing doping, the biggest problem among the proposed reforms. The legislation has been debated once by Kenyan lawmakers but suffered numerous delays because of the country's system of passing laws.
Kenyan officials expressed confidence the latest extension would be enough to get the law passed despite already missing Feb. 11 and April 5 deadlines.
"We are all happy about this and confident that parliament will enact the bill within this period," Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya chief executive Japhter Rugut told The Associated Press.
Kenyan athletics federation vice president Paul Mutwii said "This is great ... athletes were jittery about anything that would make them not go to the Olympics. But with that one month, everything will be OK and they can continue to train and do well in Rio."
Doping regulations aren't the only problems Kenya faces.
Four senior athletics officials were suspended pending investigations by the IAAF into allegations they attempted to extort money from athletes in return for lenient bans. Also, an investigation by the AP recently found Kenyan runners who were banned for doping were still competing in international races.
Since the 2012 London Olympics, 40 Kenyan athletes have been banned, a rate of one nearly every month.
The biggest name so far is Rita Jeptoo, who was about to win $500,000 for being the top women's marathon runner in 2014 before it was announced she failed an out-of-competition test for the blood booster EPO.
Imray reported from South Africa.