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Blame game as Kenya hopes to dodge Olympics ban

AFP , Friday 13 May 2016
Kenyan athletes
In this Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 file photo, athletes stretch together after their morning training run in Kaptagat Forest in western Kenya (AP)
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Views: 1748

Kenyan officials on Friday scrambled to work out what had gone wrong as the country faces a possible Olympics ban after being ruled non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

A new anti-doping law drafted in consultation with WADA was passed last month, but on Thursday the agency said "inconsistencies" meant it fell short of strict international standards and declared Kenya "non-compliant with immediate effect."

Kenya must now amend the legislation if it hopes to avoid exclusion of its world-beating distance runners from this summer's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The blame game began Friday with President Uhuru Kenyatta summoning sports minister Hassan Wario and the country's anti-doping chief Japhter Rugut.

Kipchoge Keino, head of the National Olympic Committee, said Kenya's sports ministry was responsible for the crisis.

"It appears that the Ministry of Sports changed the document before presenting it to parliament. Kenya needs to appeal, and accept that we made a mistake," Keino said.

"The only way forward for us now is look at the original document and make the necessary rectifications," he said.

Wesley Korir, an MP and champion runner who served on the parliamentary committee that assented to the draft bill, said legislators later amended the law, rendering it insufficient for WADA to give Kenya a clean bill of health.

"We need Wario to tell Kenyans who added those amendments which were rejected by WADA," said Korir, adding that the only change the committee had made was to increase the fines for doping fifty-fold to 5 million shillings ($50,000 or 44,000 euros).

Korir, a former Boston marathon winner who has led a campaign to criminalise doping and has been selected for Kenya's Olympics team, said tinkering with the bill was "completely unacceptable" and called on the sports ministry to reveal where and how mistakes were made.

"The ministry said they were in constant contact with WADA when developing the bill. We need the Ministry of Sports to make public its correspondence with WADA concerning the drafting and approval of the bill," Korir said.

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