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Kenya faces race to avoid Wada non-compliance

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has said Kenya is being investigated for breaching the World Anti-Doping Code and could be declared non-compliant in a matter of weeks.

Wada said yesterday (Thursday) that an independent compliance review committee will evaluate Kenya and make a recommendation to Wada’s board. The investigation relates to the Kenyan government’s failure to establish and properly fund a working national anti-doping body, along with its inability to conclude new anti-doping legislation.

Kenya could yet be handed a deadline and final chance to honour commitments made to Wada, but it could also join Russia, Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia and Ukraine in being declared non-compliant with the Code.

Wada said in a statement: “Wada had asked a series of questions to the Kenyan authorities, and stressed that we needed the Kenyan Government to expedite, and show commitment to, the National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO)’s development. We are awaiting concrete plans from the Kenyan Government for the funding of the NADO, and, crucially, the finalisation of Kenya’s legislation and anti-doping rules.”

The latest development comes after Athletics Kenya (AK) yesterday dismissed the latest corruption allegations levelled against it as “malicious”, as Wada earlier called the reports “extremely troubling” and indicative of the need to establish an independent anti-doping body in the African country.

Two Kenyan athletes serving four-year bans for doping at the 2015 World Athletics Championships on Wednesday alleged that AK chief executive Isaac Mwangi asked them each for a $24,000 (€21,486) bribe to reduce their suspensions.

Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga told the Associated Press news agency that Mwangi asked for the payment in an October 16 meeting, but stated they could not raise the money. Mwangi, who was not among the three senior AK officials suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in November, dismissed the allegation as “just a joke” and was supported by his employer on Thursday.

Kenya topped the medals table at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing and is expected to enjoy further success at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, around 40 Kenyan runners have failed drugs tests in the past few years, harming preparations for Rio 2016.

Being declared non-compliant with the Wada Code would not automatically mean that Kenya would be prevented from entering major competitions such as the Olympic Games. However, officials are aware of the implications.

“The biggest threat is the declaration of non-compliance and the possible consequences of that,” Christine Wambui Mugera, head of the regional anti-doping organisation in east Africa, told UK broadcaster the BBC. “The International Olympic Committee and other major event organisers, international federations, have the capacity to refuse entry for athletes from a country that has been declared non-compliant. But we have to wait to see how this plays out. The Kenyan government is working very hard to beat the timelines of Wada.”