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Athletics: Kenya moves towards a radical decision to curb doping

Athletics: Kenya moves towards a radical decision to curb doping

In the ranking of countries with the most athletes suspended for doping by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), Kenya is third with 55 athletes, behind Russia (102) and India (61). This is an inglorious statistic that the Minister of Sports wants to fight against. He has outlined his plan, which could scare away the users of illegal products.

Doping has become a scourge in Kenya

Kenya on the road to redemption. After seeing more than two dozen of its athletes suspended for doping this year, the country wants to restore its image. In fact, Kenya's sports minister has a specific plan in mind: criminalize doping. According to Ababu Namwamba, the anti-doping policy adopted in 2016 is not working. Therefore, greater levers must be used to stop this infernal machine.

"Our initial investigations are that you have a very complex underground syndicate [involved in doping in athletics]. It involves agents, coaches and doctors, so it will take a number of instruments to dismantle this syndicate. I think we need to criminalize doping and raise the handling of doping substances to the same level [as] drugs. So in the same way that we deal with drug dealers, we should deal with those who engage in this practice in the same way," he told BBC Sport Africa.

Kenya avoided the worst
The situation in Kenya this year has made us fear the worst. At one point, some observers spoke of the country being suspended from all athletics-related activities. However, it avoided this catastrophe. It is true that there have been many cases of doping, but they started from individual initiatives of the athletes themselves.

Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, explained why. "They were not going to be banned because unlike the Russian situation, which we have been dealing with for seven years, there is no clear evidence that this is state-sponsored or state-safe. The only thing I am optimistic about is that from the highest level of government through all the stakeholders you would want on board - like the Kenya Anti-Doping Agency, Athletics Kenya, the athletes themselves - there is a real determination to try and solve this problem". It remains to be seen whether Kenya will be able to stem the tide of doping soon.

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