Athletics: Kenya put on probation by Wada

Kenyan athletes during a training session in Nairobi on Aug 5, 2015.
Kenyan athletes during a training session in Nairobi on Aug 5, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Failure to launch national anti-doping body a major hurdle as police make bribery arrests

NAIROBI • The odds of Kenya's athletes missing this year's Olympics shortened slightly on Thursday night when the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) put the country on probation for failing to do enough to tackle its drug problem.

Kenya had been given until Thursday to provide Wada with more details about the formation of its own national anti-doping agency and to show its intent to get to grips with cheating in the country.

Wada has referred the country to its Independent Compliance Process body, which will review the situation in the next fortnight before making a recommendation to the Wada board.

That process could see Kenya's national anti-doping agency being declared non-compliant - although insiders were keen to stress that the chances of the country being removed from the Olympics were slim as the International Olympic Committee would need to kick the nation out.

The distinction with Russia, which was suspended indefinitely from athletics in November, is worth stressing, as the country was found guilty of state-sponsored doping.

In Kenya's case, Wada's intervention is about forcing its government to provide the 500m Kenyan shillings (S$6.8 million) needed to fund and staff the fledgling Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak).

A Wada statement confirmed that while some progress had been made with Adak, "there is still a lot of work required".

The statement said: "Wada had asked a series of questions (of) the Kenyan authorities, and stressed that we needed the Kenyan government to expedite, and show commitment to, the National Anti-Doping Organisation's development.

"We are awaiting concrete plans from the Kenyan government for the funding of the national anti-doping organisation, and, crucially, the finalisation of Kenya's legislation and anti-doping rules.

"We have not yet received the details nor the assurances we need from Kenya; and, therefore, this is now a matter for our independent compliance process."

Meanwhile, Athletics Kenya will take legal action against the two athletes banned at the Beijing World Championships who accused the federation of demanding money to hand them leaner suspensions.

This comes after Wada said it was "extremely troubled" about the revelation by the athletes Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga that federation chief executive officer Isaac Mwangi asked each for US$24,000 (S$33,400) to reduce the four-year bans. Mwangi had dismissed the claims.

"Athletes and individuals making malicious claims must take responsibility (for) their actions. This matter will be pursued through the relevant legal channels to ensure that it is dealt with expeditiously," he said.

Also on Thursday, Kenya's police arrested three men who posed as Wada officials to solicit bribes from unsuspecting athletes.

The trio were caught trying to con an athlete in a hotel into giving them US$5,000 in exchange for not recording a positive doping test.

Athletics Kenya has warned athletes to be wary of such ploys.

Kenya has been on the global radar because of the increase in doping. In the last three years, 43 athletes have been caught cheating.

THE GUARDIAN, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Kenya put on probation by Wada'. Print Edition | Subscribe