Kenya seeks to appease the anti-doping community with draconian penalties for doping.
Amina Mohamed, the current Cabinet Secretary for Education and Sports in Kenya, recently announced that the country is working hard to pass stronger legislation to criminalize doping. Mohamed provided details of the new legislation to over 300 athletes during an IAAF Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) anti-doping seminar in Eldoret, Kenya on December 6, 2019.
The new legislation includes prison sentences for athletes who are caught using anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The new criminal penalties could be enacted as early as mid-2020 according to Mohamed.
The anti-doping legislation has been proposed in response to dozens of high-profile doping cases in Kenya.
Kenya has produced many of the world’s best performing middle- and long-distance running athletes over the past couple of decades. Over the past few years, the international community has also learned that prohibited performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) have contributed to that success.
At least 138 Kenya athletes have tested positive for prohibited performance-enhancing drugs between 2004 and August 2018. The failed drug tests have resulted in suspensions for several of Kenya’s most celebrated athletes.
These athletes included an EPO positive for Rita Jeptoo (2006, 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathon women’s winner), Jemimah Sumgong ( 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic women’s marathon gold medalist), and Asbel Kiprop (2008 Beijing Olympics 1500-meter champion).
Kenya has consequently gained a reputation as a high-risk country for doping. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has listed Kenya as one of the world’s worst doping offenders.
Kenya joins other high-risk doping countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Bahrain, Venezuela, and Ethopia in cateogry A. Kenya has been listed as a Category A country since 2016.
Thomas Capdevielle, the legal and cases manager at IAAF’s AIU, applauded Kenya’s move to incarcerte athletes who dope. But Capdevielle acknowledged that it was still not enough.
“It may take some time before Kenya is removed from (WADA’s) Category A list. Implementing these measures will help, but will not mean removing Kenya from the top category. And this should not be seen as a stigma for Kenyan athletics,” Capdevielle said.