Olympic powerhouse Kenya says told how to fix doping law

Reuters News
Posted: May 13, 2016 6:01 AM

By Isaack Omulo and George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya has been told what it needs to do to fall in line with the code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), its sports minister said on Friday, a day after it was judged non-compliant and placed at risk of missing the Rio Olympics.

Kenya passed an act of parliament in April to criminalise doping, but WADA said on Thursday it needed to make changes to ensure compliance with the code, which sets a framework for consistent rules and policies around the world.

The WADA ruling meant Kenya, for decades a leading power in middle- and long-distance running, could be in danger of exclusion from the Aug. 5-21 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sports Minister Hassan Wario said WADA had written to him and "attached the areas of the act which they want to be rewritten or rectified for us to regain full compliance as soon as possible.

"Meaning that as soon as parliament reviews those highlighted bits of the legislation we are fully compliant. No ban was mentioned in the body of the letter," Wario said a statement.

Earlier, the presidential office said President Uhuru Kenyatta met the minister and other top officials "over WADA compliance issues". It was not immediately clear if the minister's statement was issued before or after that meeting.

Kenyan athletes won two gold medals, four silvers and five bronze at the last Olympics in London.

Up to 40 Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests since 2012, the biggest name among them being former three-time Boston City Marathon and Chicago Marathon champion, Rita Jeptoo, now serving a ban.

WADA had given Kenya until May to enact the anti-doping law or be declared non-compliant. The president signed the new legislation into law on April 22.

But WADA President Craig Reedie said on Thursday that it was not in line with the organisation's requirements.

"We have been working with Kenya for a number of years and thought we had agreed that the draft legislation and rules were entirely compliant, and it would appear that during their parliamentary process changes were made that unfortunately weren't code-compliant, so we will be in touch with Kenya to try and resolve that at the earliest possible moment," he said.

Kenyan running great Kipchoge Keino, who is chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, called WADA's move "very unfortunate" but said his government had not acted quickly enough against doping.

(Additional reporting and writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)