It was a relief for Kenya after World Athletics president Sebastien Coe confirmed that the nation will not receive a global suspension from the sport despite an alarming drugs positives tests.
Speculation that Athletics Kenya will be barred from international competition was proved unfounded today when Coe said the country has escaped a ban but will continue to sit on an anti-doping ‘watch list’.
Speaking at a World Athletics council press conference in Rome, Coe said the large number of top Kenyan athletes to test positive for drugs was “concerning” but the nation will not receive a Russian-style suspension due to, among other things, a pledge by the Kenyan government to plough $5 million per year into anti-doping efforts over the next five years.
“In one year 40% of all the positive tests in global athletics have been in Kenya and this is not a situation that World Athletics was prepared to sit and watch develop.”
Coe added that there has been “a lot of recent reportage, some of which has been correct and some not. But we have made real progress.”
As well as the Kenyan government funding, Coe said the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) will continue to work closely with Kenya to implement the plan.
He added: “All stakeholders internationally and domestically are now aligned to resolve this situation and I am pleased we have a united response. But my instinct tells me it will be a long journey.
“This has to be collectively driven through all the stakeholders, internationally and domestically, who have a role and responsibility to solve this as quickly as possible.”
Coe said money would be spent on anti-doping education and “a deeper dive into the entourage of some of the people who surround the athletes”.
This, he said, “allows us more horsepower to challenge some of these issues”.
Kenya aside, an update on the ongoing Russian ban was tackled by Coe and Rune Andersen, head of the World Athletics taskforce on restoring Russia to global competition.
Coe emphasised that two separate sanctions exist – the anti-doping related ban and the sanction relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
With regards to anti-doping, good progress and cultural change has been made and Russia’s possible reinstatement into competition will be discussed again in March 2023
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