Kenya, one of the world’s leading nations in track and field, has authorized the creation of an anti-doping agency with immediate effect, the BBC reports.
The news comes after a week of high-level talks about cheating and banned performance enhancement drugs in the world of athletics: On Nov. 9, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed that Russia had committed serious doping violations.
On Friday (Nov. 13), IAAF suspended Russia from the organization, effectively banning the country from participating from international athletic competitions, including next year’s Olympics in Brazil.
Kenya may be next in WADA’s line of fire; in August, an investigation (paywall) by a German broadcaster and the UK’s Sunday Times showed that Kenya had the second-highest number of athletes with suspicious blood results when tested for doping. Following the release of that report, WADA launched its own investigation.
Over the last few years, 35 athletes from Kenya have failed drug tests. The most high profile incident involves Rita Jeptoo, the former Boston and Chicago marathon winner, who tested positive for EPO, a banned substance, last year. The extraordinary aspect of that case was her admission that since 2006, she had never had a blood test taken in Kenya.
WADA’s results have yet to be made public. But Richard Pound, the co-author of the report on Russia, said that there are other countries with similar issues. He hinted that Kenya “has a real problem with doping and has been very slow to acknowledge it,” according to the BBC.
A whistleblower who revealed corruption within the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Russian Athletics, has also named Kenya as a country with a potential doping problem. “There should be a similar investigation into countries like Kenya and Ethiopia too,” Andrey Baranov said. “Their levels of testing are very limited.”
WADA officials have complained that the Kenyan government has been reluctant to look into such accusations. “There’s just no political will for it, even though they’ve been encouraged, persuaded, cajoled by us,” David Howman, WADA’s director general, told the New York Times (paywall) last week.
Kipchoge Keino, chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), says he believes that the issue is so serious that it could get Kenya banned from the Olympics and echoed WADA’s comments. “I have tried to reach government officials to agree on how to act but I don’t get appointments,” he told the BBC.