Kenya's anti-doping law delayed, authorities still confident
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenya's proposed new anti-doping law has been delayed and needs more work, but authorities expressed confidence on Thursday that it would meet the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency and be in place by an April 5 deadline.
The legislation, which was due to be presented to Kenya's parliament for approval last Monday, needs changes, the sports minister said, and is with his office.
The global anti-doping body gave Kenya until April 5 to pass laws criminalizing doping and properly set up and fund the new Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya. If the country fails to do so, it would be declared non-compliant with WADA's code, possibly prompting the International Association of Athletics Federations to suspend Kenya from international competition.
Kenya's new anti-doping agency also moved to downplay criticism that the proposed law and regulations governing the agency were not in line with WADA's code. The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya was in regular contact with WADA over the documents, which were on their seventh draft, the agency said in a statement on Thursday. ADAK denied Kenya's proposals had been "rejected" by WADA.
Athletics Kenya and some athletes expressed fears this week that the legislation may not meet WADA standards, which would put Kenya in danger of being suspended ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Sports Minister Hassan Wario told Kenya's Citizen newspaper that criticism of the legislation from national federation Athletics Kenya was unwarranted.
"Have they read it? Do they know anything about the doping bill? I think that they should be quiet and just focus on their work," Wario said.
Wario's comments reflected the bad blood between Kenya's government and athletics federation, who have turned on each other amid the East African nation's doping crisis. They have blamed each other for the problem, and Wario recently called for a leadership change at the federation after four of its senior officials were suspended pending investigations by the IAAF over alleged doping cover-ups and other wrongdoing.
In its statement, ADAK said it was making progress on other specifics that WADA requires: ADAK said it had now received funding enabling it to staff the agency properly, had rolled out anti-doping awareness campaigns, and was seeking new offices to have "operational independence" from the sports ministry.
WADA has repeatedly asked Kenya to bolster its poor anti-doping program following a big increase in doping cases among the country's runners over the last few years. Running out of patience, WADA gave the country a final April deadline to meet requirements. Kenya already missed one deadline last month and is facing its last chance.
"They simply need to do it," WADA President Craig Reedie said this week. "If they don't do it, my compliance review committee will take the matter further."
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press
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