LONDON (AP) — Track and field's governing body is prepared to ban Kenyan athletes from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if the country fails to comply with global anti-doping rules, IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.
The IAAF has already suspended Russia's track and field program from global competition, and now Kenya could be at risk of the same sanction.
The IAAF's ethics commission is investigating alleged extortion and doping cover-ups in Kenya involving top officials. The World Anti-Doping Agency has also put Kenya on notice that it could be declared non-compliant with the global anti-doping code.
"We know that a disproportionate amount of reputational damage is caused by a relatively few countries and we have to be very much more proactive," Coe told British television network BT Sport when asked about investigations into Kenya. "Yes, if it means pulling them out of World Championships or Olympic Games then we will have to do that."
"I know the World Anti-Doping Agency has looked very closely at the Kenyan National Anti-Doping Agency, we of course monitor that through the IAAF so that work is ongoing," Coe added in the interview, which was being aired Thursday night.
Kenya's problems with WADA relate to delays in setting up and funding a new national anti-doping body, and delays in passing legislation that would make doping a crime — both promises made to WADA as far back as four years ago.
The Kenyan anti-doping agency announced Thursday that it has received nearly $3 million from the government to buy anti-doping equipment, including testing kits for all the country's remote training camps.
"We have fully cooperated with WADA, although we recognize there has been delays in the processes, hence the lapse of one of the deadlines that had been put in place," Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya chief executive Kiplimo Rugut said.
WADA said last week that Kenya was under investigation for failing to meet an initial deadline for complying fully with its ant-doping code.
Kenyan track and anti-doping authorities said Thursday they were making progress.
"It does not worry me now that we may face an Olympic ban, since ADAK (The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya) is working out a policy bill which will be taken to parliament to be made into law," said Jackson Tuwei, the acting president of Kenya's track and field federation. "I am confident we will succeed. And since we have been given another two months we will work day and night to conform with the rules."
Former marathon world record-holder Wilson Kipsang is urging the Kenyan government to implement the necessary measures, including fast-tracking legislation criminalizing doping.
"We must all step up the fight against doping because if we are banned, Kenya will never be the same again," Kipsang was quoted as saying by Kenya's Daily Nation.
"This is a country which has made its name as an athletics giant. We have done well in the Olympic and world championships and therefore, we should not miss out complying with the doping directives."
Earlier this week, the chief executive of Kenya's track and field federation took temporary leave after two athletes alleged in an interview with The Associated Press that he asked them for a bribe to reduce their doping bans.
The IAAF's ethics committee is already investigating three other senior Athletics Kenya officials, including its president, for doping cover-ups and other alleged misconduct.
Associated Press writer Mutwiri Mutuota in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.