Athletics ban: Kenya to know her fate next week

Ababu Namwamba

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba. The relevant authorities must go back to the drawing board and quickly establish where the rain started beating us.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The government continues to make frantic efforts to minimise the damage
  • No reasons given for rescheduling of meeting initially planned for on Friday

Kenyans will have to wait longer to know the fate of the country’s athletes after a global meeting to discuss rising doping cases, initially scheduled for Friday, was postponed to Tuesday next week.

The top leadership of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and World Athletics did not give reasons for the rescheduling of the meeting to be held in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The change of date came as Kenyan government officials continued to make frantic, last-ditch efforts to minimise the damage.

Speculation has been rife that Kenya faces an imminent ban from global competitions owing to the worrying increase in the number of its athletes caught violating anti-doping rules.

More than 30 Kenyan athletes, mostly elite, have been suspended in the past one year for flouting various anti-doping rules.

A day after writing to World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe affirming Kenya’s commitment to the war against doping with an increased funding of an annual $5 million for the next five years, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba yesterday reaffirmed that the government was taking firm measures “to protect and uphold the integrity of athletics and sports in general”.

Namwamba spoke as both Athletics Kenya and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) heightened their local anti-doping campaigns.

This week, Athletics Kenya took its sensitisation education to the Kenya Police Service — that has the highest number of elite track athletes — at the Kiganjo Recruit Training College in Nyeri and also at police bases in Nairobi.

NOC-K, meanwhile, stepped up efforts to promote clean sport by engaging medical and health professionals on Wednesday.

NOC-K will partner with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council, the Kenya Association of Physicians, Kenyatta National Hospital and the University of Nairobi in holding sensitisation sessions for Kenyan healthcare providers and medical practitioners as regards to the anti-doping measures currently in place in sports.

Namwamba said he was in contact with World Athletics, which he has urged not to ban Kenya, while giving further assurance that the government is doing all it takes to end doping in Kenya.

“My ministry is working in unison with the Athletics Integrity Unit and World Anti-Doping Agency to bring this to an end,” the Sports CS said in a statement to the media.

“The position of the Republic of Kenya is zero tolerance to doping. Kenya is fully committed to ending the doping menace,” said Mr Namwamba.

He added that the ministry is exploring all available options to ensure that Kenya is removed from ‘Category A’, which denotes countries where doping is most prevalent.

In 2018, World Athletics placed Kenya among four countries in ‘Category A’, the others being Ethiopia, Belarus and Ukraine.

NOC-K President Paul Tergat has praised the government’s move to commit more funding to the fight against doping, saying it’s an assurance to the world athletics and global sporting fraternity that Kenya has a zero-tolerance position on doping.

Tergat, a former world marathon record holder and two-time Olympic 10,000 metres silver medallist, noted that Kenya has built an illustrious history of athletics success over the years on the global stage and it is not ready to sacrifice this reputation due to the greed of a few actors in the sector, such as the athletes and their handlers.

“This is the reason that NOC-K has made the championing for clean sports and abhorrence to doping a clarion call in all its forums and networks with athletes and other stakeholders in the recent past,” said Tergat.


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