NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – With an influx in the number of doping cases in the country, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has vowed to push on with her bid to make an amendment to the Anti-Doping Act to ensure anyone found guilty of doping will be jailed.
This year alone, four Kenyans have been slapped with bans over doping violations while five more have been suspended over the same, raising concern in the government.
Amina says the Ministry is working with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya to make amendments to the Act to ensure that no one found guilty of doping will be walking free.
“We are amending the Act because we have to bring it in line with the new international terms,” CS Amina told Capital Sports on Thursday adding that the whole process should be completed in the next two months.
She added; “The numbers have grown over the last one year and we can’t afford to do that. We want to look at the whole ecosystem and criminalize anyone found guilty within that system. No one is safe be it a health practitioner, a coach, a pharmacist or whoever. Anyone who engages in this illegal activity will be captured and we will deal with them.”
The talk over criminalizing doping has been ongoing for a while especially since Kenya came close to losing a spot at the Rio Olympics over the Anti-Doping Act. Amina, then CS for Foreign Affairs was integral in seeing Kenya’s ban pushed aside as she led a delegation to meet World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) bosses.
“This is close to my heart because it is about the image of the country. We want to make sure that our image is not dented by a few people. We are 50 million Kenyans and we can’t let four people ruin the reputation. We want our athletes to compete in a safe environment free from drugs,” the CS stated.
She added; “We will deal with it and the only way will deal with it is by criminalizing it. People should know that if they engage in doping, there are consequences. You can’t do this and go home free.”
The ministry has formed a working team with ADAK to formulate the amended Act.
Also top in the Ministry’s priority is expanding the Nairobi Laboratory to ensure it can handle testing, something that will mean Kenya’s samples can be tested locally instead of being tested abroad.
The Ministry says it will allocate funds for its expansion.
“We have an understanding with WADA to support that. The President spoke to me and said he will give the kind of support we need to expand it. We can’t continue sending our samples to Qatar and South Africa because it is terribly costly. We want to do the same at home,” CS Amina disclosed.
At the same time, Athletics Kenya chief Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei says they have so far worked with 53 athletes to help them understand the ‘whereabouts rule’ that has seen more athletes nabbed in the country.
AK conducted two separate virtual meetings with a group of 27 and 26 athletes with Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) officials to help the athletes understand the importance of the rules.
Tuwei has told Capital Sport that AK was astonished to find out that some athletes do not fill the whereabouts form for themselves, hence creating confusion.
“We asked the athletes the problem only to discover that most of them don’t fill the forms themselves. It is done by the coach, a friend or the manager and when the Doping Control Officer comes to test them, the athlete does not even know he or she is supposed to be there because they are not the ones who filled the form,” Tuwei stated.
According to the whereabouts rule, an athlete is supposed to indicate where he will be at least one hour each day to allow for testing. If an athlete posts three consecutive whereabouts failure, then they are suspended.
This year, former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang, Alex Oloitiptip and Alfred Kipketer have all been suspended because of breaching the whereabouts rule.