Kenya vowed Thursday to take action to protect its “number one” brand ambassadors after WADA World Anti Doping Agency inquiry chief Richard Pound warned it “clearly” has an athletics doping problem.
More than 40 Kenyan athletes have been suspended for doping in the past two years and Pound, speaking at a press conference in Germany to present a new report on doping and corruption in world athletics, said “there is clearly a problem” in Kenya.
Nairobi however said it would not allow doping to tarnish the reputation of the East African nation.
“The government of Kenya has more than a passing interest in athletics. Athletes are our Number One ambassadors,” Minster of Sport Hassan Wario Arero told reporters in Nairobi after the report’s release.
“It is critical to the Kenyan brand and image.”
WADA’s Pound said he had not been able to look into Kenya — or any other suspect countries — because he only had a mandate to investigate doping in Russia.
Pound said that it “may be some other independent commission that would have a look at Kenya once some of the smoke clears”, but Kenya insisted it was taking all action needed.
“The government of Kenya is committed to eradicating doping in sport and will work with all agencies involved in ensuring that sport is kept clean,” Arero said.
“The government will not and does not tolerate doping of any sort in Kenyan sport, and will take action against anyone proven to contravene national or international sporting rules.”
In December, three top Athletics Kenya officials including president Isaiah Kiplagat, deputy president David Okeyo and former treasurer Joseph Kinyua were suspended by the IAAF ethics Commission for alleged corruption and covering up doping.
Kenya has ordered the setting up of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK), was drafting new laws to tackle doping, with support from anti-doping agencies in Norway and China.
“It includes clear punishment and penalties for any violations,” Arero said, adding it will go before parliament “in the coming weeks.”