Kenyan Legislators to Hasten Publication of Anti-Doping Law

  • World-renowned athletes risk being banned from Olympics
  • Draft law seeks to criminalize doping, impose jail terms

Kenyan legislators plan to fast-track proposed anti-doping laws to beat an April 5 deadline set by the World Anti-Doping Agency or risk having its athletes banned from the Olympic Games.

The Anti-Doping Legislative Proposal may be published as early as March 15, paving the way for presidential assent, Wesley Korir, a lawmaker and past Boston Marathon champion, told reporters Thursday in the capital, Nairobi.

International Association of Athletics Federations President Sebastian Coe has threatened to ban Kenya’s entire track-and-field team from the Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August if the nation famous for its long-distance runners fails to comply.

“The key is being able to show WADA that we are in the process,” Korir said.

In August, the WADA said it would investigate more than a decade of track-and-field drug tests after the London-based Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD alleged widespread doping within the sport. Both media cited an IAAF database leaked by a whistle-blower containing 12,000 blood-test results of 5,000 athletes from 2001 to 2012. Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, last month ended its sponsorship of an IAAF program because of the scandal.

Athletes Blockade

In November, Kenyan athletes barred officials from the local governing body from entering their offices for two days to protest alleged graft involving Nike Inc. sponsorship money. Nike said it conducts its business with integrity and expects its partners to do the same.

Korir said he’d been trying to get fellow legislators to pass his bill since last year, but only got them to join his cause when he brought to their attention the urgency of the matter.

The bill provides for the formation of an independent national anti-doping agency and criminalizes the use of banned substances. Athletes that test positive could be fined as much as 1 million shillings ($9,846), be jailed for five years, or both, Korir said.

Last year, Kenya formed the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya through a presidential order. ADAK has a separate draft law that has gone through several amendments after discussion with WADA, though Kenyan legislators weren’t involved in its formation, Korir said.

ADAK’s draft law could be incorporated in the version to be published before President Uhuru Kenyatta signs it into law, Korir said.

The IAAF suspended two Kenyan runners, 400-meter hurdler Koki Manunga and 400-meter runner Joyce Zakary, after they tested positive at the world athletics championships last year. They were subsequently banned for four years. The pair has accused a top Athletics Kenya official of trying to extort money from them under the pretext he could reduce their bans.

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