Nairobi, Feb 15 (IANS) Kenya’s security officers have launched investigations into doping claims among athletes, saying the vice was painting the East African nation negatively.
The move came after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it has forwarded Kenya’s case to its independent compliance committee after the country failed to meet its deadline to combat the vice, reports Xinhua.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet confirmed on Sunday that the Kenyan police are already following up crucial leads that may lead to the possible arrest of suspects soon, saying some “persons of interest” are being pursued in the doping claims.
“For those few acting in cahoots with their associates to indulge in doping is messing up the important facet of our athletics life is a great dishonour we are your case,” said Boinnet on Sunday.
Media reports were awash with claims that Kenya would be handed down an international ban like Russia, but WADA said in a statement on Friday the reports were pre-mature. It insisted the matter was now in the hands of a compliance committee.
WADA will review what has been done so far and if it is not satisfied with the process in place to clean up the sport in a country that has seen over 40 runners banned for doping violations, Kenya could find herself barred from the Brazil Summer Games.
WADA confirmed that while some progress has been made with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK), there is still a lot of work required.
The global anti-doping body said it has been awaiting concrete plans from the Kenyan government for the funding of the National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO), and, crucially, the finalization of Kenya’s legislation and anti-doping rules.
ADAK was given legal force via a cabinet decree late December but it is yet to formally start operations.
The local anti-doping body will be charged with drawing up a legal framework to criminalise doping, investigate cases and lead the prosecution of athletes, managers, coaches, agents and suppliers of banned substances in court.
But Boinnet noted that doping claims among Kenyan athletes is painting Kenyan athletics negatively and ruining the name of the country as an “athletics superpower.”
Speaking at the National Cross-Country Championships, Boinnet asked athletes to keep off the vice, saying the police are already working with the athletics fraternity to stem the rise in doping cases among athletes.
WADA also said it was extremely troubled by media reports alleging that Kenyan athletic officials were bribed in return for a reduction of their doping suspensions.
The athletes, Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga, were both suspended for anti-doping rule violations for a period of four years on November 27, 2015.
The two athletes were reportedly each asked for – and refused – 24,000 U.S. dollars by an Athletics Kenya (AK) official in return for a reduction of their suspensions. The official has since denied the claims.
“WADA is most disturbed by these reports regarding extortion and bribery at the national level of sport, eerily similar sounding to what we learnt through the recent Independent Commission investigation into widespread doping in International Athletics,” said WADA director general, David Howman.