WADA declaration puts Kenya's Olympic participation into question

ByBonnie D. Ford ESPN logo
Thursday, May 12, 2016

MONTREAL -- Kenya's anti-doping agency was declared "non-compliant" with the World Anti-Doping Agency code Thursday, throwing the country's participation in the Rio Summer Games into question with less than three months before opening ceremonies.

WADA compliance review committee chairman Rene Bouchard of Canada said Kenya should be sanctioned because the nation's recently passed legislation setting parameters for its national anti-doping agency did not fully comply with the code. Bouchard said the provisions of the legislation had been changed since WADA reviewed draft language.

"As in all cases of non-compliance, WADA will now hand the decision over to its stakeholders, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNESCO for their consideration and action," WADA said in a statement.

WADA's Foundation Board accepted the recommendation without debate.It made a similar move with Russia's anti-doping agency in November.

There were calls at the meeting, most notably from Scott, for WADA to provide more rock-solid assurances that the countries would not participate in Rio.

WADA president Craig Reedie answered by reiterating a point he's made all along: WADA doesn't have final say.

"You know the situation as well as I do. Efforts are being made. We have to hope they'll be successful," Reedie said.

The African nation had missed two previous WADA deadlines this year for passage of legal authorization to underpin its national anti-doping agency. A legislative package -- including criminal laws covering sports doping -- passed last month and was expected to put Kenya's new anti-doping agency in the clear.

Kenya's athletic establishment -- in particular, its perennially dominant distance runners -- have come under intense scrutiny in recent years for poor to nonexistent drug testing, bureaucratic dysfunction and allegations of corruption.

Forty Kenyan runners have been found guilty of doping violations since 2012, and 18 are currently suspended, according to the most recent documentation on the IAAF website.

Joseph de Pencier, the CEO of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Agencies, called the suspension of Kenya's agency "a promising move" by WADA.

"Kenya is a country that continues to perform at a very high level without a seemingly competent [anti-doping] national program," de Pencier said."A consequence of noncompliance has to mean you can't compete internationally. That's what will get action."

Kenya won two gold medals and 11 total in track events at the 2012 London Games, and the country sent athletes to a handful of other events, including swimming and boxing.

At the most recent world championships in 2015, Kenya topped the medals table with 16.

Any final decision to bar Kenyan athletes from the Rio Games would rest with the International Olympic Committee, likely in consultation with the IAAF, track and field's world governing body.

Reaction in Kenya ranged from outraged to confused.

"For me, for sure I don't understand," Julius Yego, the world champion in javelin, told The Associated Press. "We don't know the way forward. Should we continue training or do we stop?"

Added Kenyan marathoner Wesley Korir, who serves in the country's parliament: "WADA are killing the sport. Are we making the laws for WADA or for Kenyans? We need to find the communication between the ministry and WADA."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.