Kenya’s president held talks with his top sports officials on Friday after the World Anti-Doping Agency said the East African country did not comply with its anti-drugs code, throwing doubt on Kenyan athletes’ participation in the Rio Olympics.
Kenya passed legislation in April to criminalise doping, but WADA said on Thursday it needed to make changes to ensure compliance with the code, which sets a framework for consistent rules and policies around the world.
Kenya, for decades a leading power in middle- and long-distance running, now faces the risk of missing the Aug. 5-21 Games in Rio de Janeiro if the International Olympic Committee so decides.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Sports Minister Hassan Wario and others met “over WADA compliance issues”, presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu wrote on his Twitter account. He did not give further details.
WADA had given Kenya until May to enact the anti-doping law or be declared non-compliant.
The president signed the new legislation into law on April 22.
But WADA President Craig Reedie said on Thursday that it was not in line with the organisation’s requirements.
“We have been working with Kenya for a number of years and thought we had agreed that the draft legislation and rules were entirely compliant, and it would appear that during their parliamentary process changes were made that unfortunately weren’t code-compliant, so we will be in touch with Kenya to try and resolve that at the earliest possible moment,” he said.
Kenyan athletes won two gold medals, four silvers and five bronze at the last Olympics in London.
Up to 40 Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests since 2012, the biggest name among them being former three-time Boston City Marathon and Chicago Marathon champion, Rita Jeptoo, now serving a ban.
Kenyan running great Kipchoge Keino, who is chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), called WADA’s move “very unfortunate” but said his government had not acted quickly enough against doping.