Gov’t splashes Sh600m to fight doping as country starts ‘long journey’ to rebuild trust with World Athletics
The State has allocated Sh 600 million annually to the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) for the next five years to fight the doping menace that almost saw the country suspended from athletics global competitions on Wednesday.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba who was visibly relieved by the World Athletics pardon, made the announcement in Nairobi yesterday and once again reiterated Kenya’s commitment to fight the vice.
“We are cognizant of the favours and mercy granted to us by World Athletics and we forever will be indebted to Lord Sebastian Coe and the Council for giving us a fair hearing. We want to make sure that ADAK is self-reliant and sufficient in their mandate to keep doping at bay. It is great news for Kenya that we are not banned, but we cannot condone this issue anymore so we are sounding a warning to everyone involved in doping that soon we will catch up with them,” Namwamba said.
He added: “The government through a multi-agency approach will establish a strategic plan to quell any other embarrassment of this kind. We can now leverage on the good luck we have to hunt down the perpetrators so that we do not get into bad books again with the World Athletics body. We will be cooperating well with the Athletics Integrity Unity alongside the Athletics Kenya Federation to ensure that we educate Athletes,Coaches and Agents on the issue of doping.”
The Ministry of Sports has also laid out plans to work with schools to ensure the upcoming Athletes in combating the vice. While commending AK for their cooperation in the fight against doping,the CS reminded them of the need to return integrity to the sport.
Kenya evaded a ban from competition but has a “long journey” ahead to rebuild trust following a string of doping violations, World Athletics president Lord Coe said.
A total of 55 athletes are serving suspensions issued by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), with a further eight provisionally suspended and awaiting the outcomes of their cases.
As a result the East African country was reportedly at risk of a sanction from the sport’s governing body, but assurances offered by its government have allayed the threat of being barred from competition.
Lord Coe, speaking after World Athletics’ council meeting in Rome on Wednesday, said the Kenyan government had committed to spend $5m a year for the next five years to combat doping in the sport by funding more personnel, doping tests and investigations as well as bolster educational programmes.
The AIU will work closely with Kenya to implement the plan following what Lord Coe described as a “disfiguring” period.
“World Athletics has been concerned,” Lord Coe.
“Kenya are on the watch list already and have been for some years. It is pretty clear that World Athletics take very seriously the escalating problem that has arisen in Kenya.
“Over the course of one year, 40% of all the positives recorded [in doping tests] in global athletics are in Kenya. This was not something the sport, and certainly not World Athletics, was prepared to sit and develop.
“This is not a situation that is sustainable. I am pleased we have got a united response, and the only way this can be dealt with has to be collectively driven. All stakeholders, domestically and internationally, have a role and responsibility in trying to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Letter from minister had impact
Kenya is among seven countries deemed a ‘Category A’ federation - the highest doping risk - by the AIU, meaning athletes from the countries have to undergo at least three tests in the 10 months prior to a major event to be able to compete there.
An overarching ban by World Athletics and the AIU would be a huge blow to the reputation of Kenyan athletics, having won 34 of its 35 Olympic gold medals in track and field events.
National Olympic Committee of Kenya said Kenya had built an “illustrious history” in the sport would not sacrifice its reputation due to greed of a few.”
Last month, Namwamba, wrote to Lord Coe to assure him that Kenya’s government is taking firm measures to uphold the integrity of athletics.
“The letter was very important - for recognition from the highest levels of government that this is an issue that was disfiguring,” Lord Coe told BBC Sport Africa.
“Kenyan athletics is not just important to us globally. Kenyan athletics is very important to the brand values of Kenya.
“But it is a sport that needed some collective support and help.
“So that letter committing $25m over five years that will allow us to look at and reinforce the education programmes [and], I hope, also a deeper dive into the conduct of the entourage that is around some of the athletes, including coaches and athlete representatives.
“All these things allow us more horsepower, more resource, to be able to challenge some of these issues.”
-Additional reporting by BBC