NAIROBI, April 22, 2016 – Kenya joined the ranks of nations endorsing clean sporting devoid of performance enhancement drugs by enacting the anti-doping law.
After months of waiting, discussions, back and forth promises, deadlines and threats, President Uhuru Kenyatta on April 22, 2016 signed the Anti-Doping Bill into law obviously rushing to beat the last extension of May 2nd deadline set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the country to conform or be declared non compliant.
By the stroke of his pen, President Uhuru allayed fears of exclusion of Kenya’s athletic brigade eyeing participation at the Rio Olympics, a move that would have relegated the East African athletic powerhouse to a low of failed states.
“He took just a few hours to sign the bill after it was passed. At this stage we had become worried after the last deadline, we were third time lucky. We are really happy,” said Julius Yego, the world Javelin champion who was among tens of sportsmen who witnessed the historic moment.
“Wow, wow it is like a dream come true. We will now go to the Olympics and can take our training a notch higher”, added Asbel Kiprop a Kenyan world champion. Who continued saying “with the jail terms, bans and fines the athletes who will still have the courage to use the performance enhancing drugs forgive my language; will be a complete idiots, and big offenders who don’t deserve to be part of this honoured sport.”
Kenyatta signed the bill that criminalizes doping at State House Nairobi in the presence of the Deputy President William Ruto and Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario.
It was the first time that the president has signed a bill in front of tens of members of public, proof of how highly and committed he was to ensuring the law is in place.
President Kenyatta had announced that he will be signing the bill on Thursday when he hosted the Kenya 7’s team that recently won the main cup at the Singapore Sevens sports event.
Anti-Doping Law continuation in the fight for clean sport, Kenyatta
Nonetheless the head of State emphasized that the law would not be an end by itself but rather the continuation of his government’s efforts to stand against cheating and corruption in the sporting and athletics arena.
“As I’ve repeatedly emphasized, Kenya is 100% committed to ensuring total compliance with international regulations on sports and athletics, be they set by WADA, IAAF, the International Olympic Committee or any other International Organization. We believe that across the board, Kenyans are more than able to win fairly,” said President Kenyatta.
Kenyatta was hopeful that WADA will highly consider the passage of the anti-doping law as a firm commitment by the country to meet the highest international standards.
“Yet even as our national leadership take these necessary steps to compliance, I want to urge our athletes and sportsmen and women to hold themselves to the highest possible code of conduct,” he said.
WADA had hoped that Kenya would pass the necessary legislation and provide adequate funding towards anti-doping by 11 February, a deadline that lapsed with the government insisting that there were prerequisite constitutional procedures that had to be followed.
WADA’s Independent Compliance Review Committee met on April 5th and accessed Kenya’s compliance issue and were to provide its recommendation for Kenya to be declared non compliant by the WADA at its meeting on May 12 in Canada.
Non compliance could have meant that there was high possibility that Kenyan athletes would not compete at the games in Rio De Janeiro this August if the International Olympic Committee ruled on the country’s suspension and the International Association of athletics Federation also suspended Kenya Athletics.
About 40 Kenyans runners have failed drug tests in the last four years and four offficials led by its president Isaiah Kiplagat suspended by the IAAF for doping cover ups and corruption allegations, thus the pressure on Kenya to have the legislation in place.
Even as he signed the law, the president warned that those breaching the law will be dealt with firmly and itbwill be applied across all sports and athletics.
Source: Evelyn Watta, AIPS EC member, www.sportsnewsarena.com