By Mutwiri Mutuota
Kenya, was on Wednesday, spared an international ban from athletics but the East African nation is not out of the woods yet over spiraling cases of doping.
World Athletics announced that the distance running powerhouse will continue to be monitored closely following the conclusion of its two-day Council Meeting in Rome, Italy.
World Athletics chief, Sebastian Coe cited assurances from Kenya’s government to increase funding to fight doping as the reason to spare the country from an international ban for now.
“Building trust will be a long process. We will continue to monitor Kenya closely after an assurance by the sports minister of additional funding (to anti-doping efforts),” Coe said at a press conference much to the relief of a nation that was on the brink of a ban last week.
The latest international suspension care came in the aftermath of an all-time record year for Kenyans provisionally suspended or banned for doping.
Almost 30 Kenyan runners have been banned for doping by the Athletics Independent Unit- the independent anti-doping body of World Athletics as well as the local Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) so far in 2022.
A further 20 or so are cases under review, a worrying state of affairs that put Kenya in the crosshairs of the world governing body with pressure mounting to ban the East African nation.
Last Friday (November 25), the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage, and the Arts, Ababu Namwamba announced he had spoken to Coe and assured World Athletics the government increase funding for the anti-doping effort with an additional $5 million per year for the next five years.
“We laud the President of World Athletics, Lord Sebastian Coe for acknowledging our efforts in this regard.
“In his communication to me this week, Coe praised the government’s action and plan in the fight against the threat of doping,” Namwamba added in a statement.
The additional funding will go to ADAK and Athletics Kenya “to develop their testing, mobilization, reconnaissance, surveillance and enforcement capabilities.”
The Kenyan government was compelled to reach out to the world governing body amid reports its independent agency, AIU would recommend the suspension of the country from international athletics.
The AIU which, is based in the French Principality of Monaco, submitted its report on Category A countries- the nations deemed to be at the highest risk of doping- of which Kenya has been blacklisted since 2017 last Friday.
In an exclusive interview with CGTN Africa anchor, Mahia Mutua that aired in the weekly sports magazine show, Sports Scene in October, AIU chief executive, Brett Clothier had sounded a warning to drug cheats in the country that the noose was tightening around them.
“We are very, very concerned to be frank. There is far too much doping happening in Kenya in recent years.
“It’s highly concerning to us that a country that is so strong and so important to our sport has such a large doping problem. There is no getting around, that’s a fact,” Clothier remarked at the time.
He cited inadequate funding to ADAK as one of the challenges facing the anti-doping efforts in the East African nation.
“So, I think we have a reasonable platform here, we have willing partners and really good cooperation but more funding needs to be put into those domestic local authorities to assist us better in tackling the problem of doping,” the British head of the AIU advised.
Barely three weeks after the interview aired, sources within the leadership of local athletics revealed the country was on the brink of a ban, setting in motion the swift government action that has earned Kenya a stay of execution to get its house in order.