Kenyan officials on Friday scrambled to avoid a possible Olympics ban after being ruled non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
A new anti-doping law drafted in consultation with WADA was passed last month, but on Thursday the agency said “inconsistencies” meant it fell short of strict international standards and declared Kenya “non-compliant with immediate effect.”
Kenya must now amend the legislation if it hopes to avoid exclusion of its world-beating distance runners from this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Deputy President William Ruto said the government is “taking the issue seriously” and all efforts would be made to avoid a ban.
“The government will do whatever is required by the World Anti-Doping Agency and agree with it on every issue,” he said, adding that the Rio Olympics would be a “pale shadow” of itself without Kenya’s participation.
Sports minister Hassan Wario said he did not know why Kenya’s law had fallen short of WADA’s requirements but said he and foreign minister Amina Mohamed would travel to Canada at the weekend to meet with WADA officials to work through what he called “the grey areas”.
Questions as to what had gone wrong began early Friday with President Uhuru Kenyatta summoning Wario and the country’s anti-doping chief Japhter Rugut.
Kipchoge Keino, head of the National Olympic Committee, said Kenya’s sports ministry was responsible for the crisis.
“It appears that the Ministry of Sports changed the document before presenting it to parliament,” Keino said.
Wesley Korir, an MP and champion runner who served on the parliamentary committee that assented to the draft bill, said legislators later amended the law, rendering it inadequate.
The former Boston marathon winner who has led a campaign to criminalise doping and has been selected for Kenya’s Olympics squad, said tinkering with the bill was “completely unacceptable” and called on the sports ministry to reveal where and how mistakes were made.
“The ministry said they were in constant contact with WADA when developing the bill. We need the Ministry of Sports to make public its correspondence with WADA concerning the drafting and approval of the bill,” Korir said.