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Harsh penalties in proposed Anti-Doping Bill

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Banned Kenyan sprinter Fransisca Koki during the 2015 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing.PHOTO/FILE

Banned Kenyan sprinter Fransisca Koki during the 2015 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing.PHOTO/FILE

NAIROBI, March 31 – Kenya’s proposed new Anti-Doping Bill that was tabled in Parliament Wednesday afternoon has severe punishment for persons or bodies found culpable of violating doping regulations.

With the legislation pushing for criminalising sports doping, the law that establishes the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) proposes Sh100,000 ($1,000) fine and/or a year in jail for athletes caught doping.

Those caught smuggling or administering banned substances face a Sh3 million ($30,000) fine or a three-year jail term and in case of corporate bodies, in addition to the fine, the trading license shall be withdrawn for a period of not less than one year.

Also in the 85 page Bill, a registered sports body that commits the prohibited activities shall be subject to either a reprimand, withdrawal of services that are funded by public resources, withholding for a stated period, on terms to be determined by the Tribunal of some or all public funding awarded but not yet paid to the Agency or deregistered by the Sports Registrar.

Medical practitioners are not spared either as those who will be found prescribing, administering or possessing prohibited substances shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than Sh3million ($30,000) and/or imprisonment for not less than three years.

On top of those penalties, the practitioner’s professional license will be revoked for a period of not less than one year.

Kenyan lawmakers held the preliminary reading, just days before a deadline to avoid threatened Olympic expulsion.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) gave Kenya until April 5 to tighten its anti-doping law and provide funding for a proposed ADAK, after the east African track giants missed an earlier February 14 deadline.

The new Bill is intended to save Kenyan athletes from an Olympics ban threatened by IAAF president Sebastian Coe.

The bill requires two further parliamentary hearings, possible committee hearings and presidential assent before becoming law, a process that can take months.

When Kenya missed the February deadline to prove it was doing enough to combat drug-taking, Coe said he would severely punish any country guilty of attempting to cover up doping.

Efforts to comply with the new extended deadline were hampered in February when Athletics Kenya chief executive Isaac Mwangi stepped aside to allow a probe into allegations he sought bribes from two suspended athletes, claims he denies.

Many in Kenya fear doping is rife among their top-class runners, who have been the source of enormous national pride.

The IAAF earlier this month listed Kenya among five countries in “critical care” over their inadequate anti-doping measures.

Some 40 Kenyan athletes have been involved in drug scandals in the last three years and athletics supremo Isaac Mwangi has been suspended for alleged corruption involving doping cover-ups, drawing a sharp rebuke from WADA.

It remains to be seen whether world athletics authorities will judge Kenya to have taken sufficient steps to avoid further censure.

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