Reprieve for athletes as Kenya changes doping law

What you need to know:

  • Legislators’ actions pave way for Kenyan athletes to train without fear of a world ban
  • The global agency early this month rejected the law after it had been assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta forcing MPs to be recalled to a special sitting to make the amendments.

Parliament on Thursday approved the Anti-Doping (Amendment) Bill to comply with the recommendations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and avoid a possible Rio Olympic Games ban for the country.

As the Amendment Bill was passed, the Attorney General Githu Muigai was put on the spot for making changes that did not comply with the Wada code.

The global agency early this month rejected the law after it had been assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta forcing MPs to be recalled to a special sitting to make the amendments.

Solicitor General Njee Muturi said the AG made the changes to align the Anti-Doping Act with the Constitution and local legal structures, but due to time constraints, they did not check with Wada whether the changes were acceptable or not.

“We made the necessary changes to align it with the constitution, but we did not know whether it would conflict with the Wada Code,” said Muturi.
Appearing before the Labour and Social Services Committee on Thursday, Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario said Wada broke its own code in the manner in which it broke the news of Kenya’s non-compliance.

He said Wada failed to give Kenya an opportunity to present a written explanation before its findings were made public.


“The way the issue was handled by Wada was completely reckless because it did not follow its own regulations. Signatory associations are usually allowed to submit written arguments before status of a country’s compliance are made public,” he said.

Both Muturi and Wario assured the Committee that Wada had approved the amendments and had allowed the Kenyan officials to correspond through mail to ensure the final Bill was compliant.

MPs passed the Bill in record time. After going through all the three stages for a Bill’s approval, Speaker Justin Muturi allowed for a procedural motion to exempt the Bill from legislative requirement that a Bill cannot be allowed back into the House before six months have elapsed after its approval.

Leader of Majority Aden Duale also moved the changes that the time for the Bill to become law, is reduced from 14 to seven days. With the country having already missed two Wada deadlines for compliance, the recent events created uncertainty about Kenya’s participation at the Rio Olympics in August with the threat of a ban.

A high powered delegation led by Wario and Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohammed travelled to Montreal, Canada to meet Wada officials in which 26 issues the world agency had with Kenya’s Anti-Doping Law were raised.

Among the amendments MPs passed yesterday were stating clearly in the Bill that the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) was the only agency dealing with anti-doping issues in the country.

Wada also wanted Adak’s mandate expanded to include educating athletes on anti-doping matters and coming up with a management system for athletes, coaches and other support staff.

The agency also wanted the penalties for athletes and managers caught to have engaged in the doping offence removed from the Bill, arguing the issues were criminal in nature and could be handled in a separate criminal legislation or court. Various stakeholders welcomed Thursday’s development.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said that the move by Parliament will reduce the rising cases of doping. “This is what we all wanted and looked forward to. With the rules and regulations enforced, I am confident we shall witness a significant reduction in cases of cheating in sports,” said Tuwei.

National Olympic Committee (NOC-K) chairman Kipchoge Keino stressed that need for athletes to compete in a “clean” environment. “Those who changed clauses (in the initial Bill) need to apologise to the President. We are looking to mould honest and transparent youth into world beaters and this can only be done by honest leaders,” Keino said.

“The athletes I know always prefer a clean and fair competing environment. We appreciate the Government’s efforts because we can now train and prepare without doubt or worries,” World and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi said.