Kenyan athletics head says WADA 'satisfied' with progress
The head of Kenya's track and field federation said Tuesday that the World Anti-Doping Agency was ''satisfied'' with the country's progress in improving what was a feeble anti-doping program and told Kenyan athletes not to worry about another missed deadline.
Despite the failure to pass anti-doping legislation by Tuesday, the second time the country has missed a WADA deadline, Athletics Kenya acting president Jackson Tuwei said they had done enough to avoid serious sanctions, including a possible international ban.
''The government has forwarded a report to WADA to show the progress that has been done in complying with the WADA regulations,'' Tuwei said at a trials meet for junior athletes in Nairobi. ''I'm also aware they (WADA) have accepted the documents and are satisfied with the progress.''
Tuwei called on Kenyan athletes to continue their preparations for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August ''without bothering about the deadline.''
Despite Tuwei's confidence, WADA's independent compliance review committee was due to meet later Tuesday to discuss Kenya's situation, with the distance running power in the midst of a doping crisis.
Forty Kenyan athletes have been banned for doping since the 2012 Olympics and four senior track officials are under investigation for wrongdoing that includes potential cover-ups of drug cases. That, along with Kenya's weak anti-doping program, could lead WADA to declare it non-compliant with global rules.
That may then lead to further sanctions by the International Association of Athletics Federations, which hasn't ruled out a ban from international competition for Kenya if there is evidence of serious problems with its program. The IAAF banned Russia from international competition after WADA declared it non-compliant with its anti-doping code.
Top Kenyan runners, including 800-meter world record-holder David Rudisha, have expressed fears that they could be banned from the Olympics as a result of inaction by their authorities.
For years, WADA has asked Kenyan authorities to make progress in four areas: Pass an anti-doping law, set up a national anti-doping agency, fund that agency and give it powers to enforce bans, and establish drug-testing labs in Kenya.
Although Kenya has not passed doping legislation - a proposed law has only been debated once by lawmakers - there has been some progress with the others.
WADA's compliance review committee will meet Tuesday, and then make a recommendation to WADA's board at its meeting on May 12. The board will make the final decision over whether to declare Kenya non-compliant.
Kenya's doping problems have been exacerbated by revelations by The Associated Press that a senior official allegedly attempted to extort money from athletes in exchange for lenient bans. Also, the AP has discovered that some Kenyan athletes have been competing in international events while banned for doping.
The Kenyan government was in contact with both WADA and the IAAF and was ''optimistic'' that there wouldn't be a ban, sports minister Hassan Wario told local media on Tuesday.
AP writer Mutwiri Mutuota contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya.