Kenya hosted the president of World Athletics on Thursday. The country’s Sports Minister held a press conference in Nairobi with Sebastian Coe.
Last year, a slew of Kenyan runners were suspended after testing positive for banned drugs, and their names were added to the Athletics Integrity Unit’s global list of ineligible athletes. Kenya, on the other hand, avoided a ban, as Sebastian Coe explained.
“What is the difference between our approach to Kenya than the approach that we took with Russia? Let me make this clear, these are two very different cases. As was evident in the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) report, those (Russian cases) coverups were organised at state authority level. There is no suggestion that is the case in Kenya, in fact, quite the reverse.”
The World Athletics Federation’s president said the track and field powerhouse faced a “long journey” to address a doping crisis. The government has pledged $25 million over the next five years to help fund more anti-doping personnel, increase testing and investigation, and strengthen education programs.
“Rather than hide from this grim statistics, rather than bury our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, we have accepted the challenge,” Ababu Namwamba, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts said. “We have agreed that we have a problem, and we have moved on to prepare on how to confront that problem head on.”
For the past seven years, the East African country has been at the top of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s watch list.
When Kenya established its anti-doping agency, it imposed criminal penalties on those caught cheating.
However, no one has been prosecuted to date, and the number of Kenyan athletes found guilty of doping continues to rise.