Reprieve; IAAF won’t ban Kenya from Olympics

Kenyan athletes will participate in the Rio de Janeiro  Olympics despite serious concerns over the country’s anti-doping program, the IAAF has said.

The IAAF said in a statement released on Friday however the country remains on a “monitoring list” of countries with doping problems until the end of the year.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Thursday declared Kenya’s drug-testing agency non-compliant causing panic amongst athletes and the nation at large.

“During the monitoring process Kenyan athletes remain eligible to compete nationally and internationally,” the IAAF said.

That means Kenyans will be able to take part in track and field at the Rio Games in August, unless the International Olympic Committee steps in

The IAAF did say that WADA’s decision to suspend Kenya’s anti-doping program “is a further reflection of the IAAF’s concerns about the level of commitment to anti-doping at the national level in Kenya.”

It also said Kenya’s elite athletes were now the most tested of any country by the IAAF. Kenya could face more serious sanctions from the track body at the end of the year if its drug-testing program is still a mess.

Kenya’s anti-doping program needed to be “significantly strengthened by the end of the current year,” the IAAF said.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario on Friday  said that WADA had pointed out which parts of the law needed changing. He said the problem areas can be “rewritten or rectified.”

“Meaning that as soon as parliament reviews those highlighted bits of the legislation we are fully compliant,” Wario said in a statement sent by text message to reporters. “No ban was mentioned in the body of the letter.”

That’s because WADA doesn’t have the power to enforce a ban on Kenya’s athletes, but the IAAF does, and it did with Russia after its anti-doping program was declared non-compliant following allegations of corruption and doping cover-ups last year.

WADA’s surprise decision to suspend Kenya’s anti-doping body came after parliament finally passed the legislation last month following two missed deadlines but WADA on Thursday described it as “a complete mess.” Late changes had been made, causing it to be rejected, WADA said.

The IAAF also noted that there was a possibility, albeit remote, that the IOC could take action against Kenya ahead of Rio.

“As far as Kenya’s participation is concerned across all sports at the Olympic Games in Rio, the IAAF notes that WADA has referred its decision on non-compliance to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNESCO for their consideration and action,” the IAAF said.

 

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