NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) Under pressure to show it is taking its own doping problem seriously, Kenya's government gave the go-ahead Friday for a new national anti-doping agency to begin work, allowing it to carry out tests and prosecute cases.
The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya - ADAK - was officially recognized by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Following the release of a WADA report alleging a vast, state-sponsored doping program in Russia, Kenya is also under scrutiny for a recent surge in doping cases.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has been calling for Kenya to set up an anti-doping agency ever since allegations of widespread drug use among the country's dominant distance runners emerged in 2012.
WADA warned again this week that Kenya hasn't done enough to combat doping and urged the government to set up an effective anti-doping body.
Kenyatta chaired a meeting of his cabinet Friday morning and signed off on ADAK, according to a cabinet office statement, allowing it to become fully operational. ADAK will now be responsible for doping tests in Kenya, oversee the prosecution of cases, and ''develop and execute anti-doping rules and regulations,'' the statement said.
For years a powerhouse in middle- and long-distance running, suspicions were raised over Kenya's success when allegations were made that banned substances were easily available in the country and there were few doping tests.
Since then, nearly 40 Kenyans have failed doping tests, including two runners at the world athletics championships in Beijing in August.
One of WADA's main criticisms of Kenya has been that the government has not provided enough funding for an effective anti-doping program. An independent report that was released in 2014 said Kenya's track federation had an annual budget for doping tests of $2,000 - barely enough for five tests.
The Kenyan government didn't provide specific details of funding for ADAK on Friday. There are also doubts over the progress of a new anti-doping laboratory in the capital, Nairobi, which is supposed to be functioning but is yet to open.