Kenya’s new anti-doping law is its best hope to avoid a Rio Olympics ban

Kenyan athletics look set to escape WADA sanctions.
Kenyan athletics look set to escape WADA sanctions.
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder
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African athletics powerhouse, Kenya, is introducing a new, more stringent anti-doping law for its athletes. The law, signed by president Kenyatta, will criminalize doping in the country as Kenya tries to get in line with directives from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Kenya’s decision to pass the law is largely driven by fears of the country’s athletes missing out on the Rio Olympics later this summer.

Despite excelling at various tournaments, Kenya’s athletes were faced with the threat on missing out on the Rio Olympics after an investigation (paywall) by ARD, a German broadcaster and the UK’s Sunday Times. It described Kenya as “blood-doping hotbed” after it found that samples from as many as 77 Kenyan athletes showed abnormal test results. Since 2011, over 40 Kenyan athletes have tested positive for banned substances.

In February, Sebastian Coe, president of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) hinted at a possible Olympics ban saying the body needed to be “proactive” in stamping out doping. But that now appears less likely as the new legislation empowers Kenya’s anti-doping agency to stiffer with doping in the countrya key requisite for WADA.

Kenya’s achievements in athletics are quite legendary. At the last World Championships, Kenya topped the medals table with 16 medals. In each of the last two Olympicsat London and BeijingKenya has recorded double digit medal wins. In total, Kenyan athletes have picked up 86 Olympic medals25 of them gold.