Kenya’s 2016 Rio Olympic dreams suffered a major setback Thursday night after the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) declared the nation non-compliant with immediate effect.
The news was announced on the Wada's Twitter page. “The #WADA CRC has made the unanimous recommendation that #Kenya be declared non-compliant with immediate effect.
“The CRC cites issues with #Kenya’s legislation which it says is not in line with the World Anti-Doping Code,” the anti-doping agency posted. Wada’s Compliance Review Committee cited issues with “Kenya’s legislation which it says is not in line with the World Anti-Doping Code.”
The Wada Compliance Review Committee made the recommendation official when it presented its findings to the Foundation Board at a meeting in Montreal, Canada, and the recommendation was accepted.
Kenya’s status at the Games now hangs on whether or not the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will impose a ban.
Top leadership in Athletics Kenya (AK) and National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) reacted with dismay at the news.
“It will be a sad situation if that is the case. We worked on all issues that Wada raised,” AK president Jackson Tuwei said.
“We have not seen any report nor been sent any and it would be difficult to react to what we are hearing in the media. We can only react when we see an official report,” he added.
BLAMED THE GOVERNMENT
NOC-K chairman Kipchoge Keino said he was not surprised by the Wada verdict and blamed the government for the mess in Kenyan athletics.
“From 2015 Wada has had concerns about the Kenyan situation and others around the world. And while countries like ASA, Jamaica worked closely with the agency to clean house, Kenya did not. The Ministry of Sports did not act and they are the ones who should have led the process of cleaning house,” an emotional Keino told Daily Nation Sport.
“I reported that we were in danger way back. This ministry concerned is to blame. We should have sat down as a ministry and asked why we were having this problem. But when we asked the minister (Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario) he said we were attacking him. We never acted and now this has come.”
Mr Wario said he was waiting for official communication from the board to respond to the news. “We made our presentation to the board. The meeting is still going on. We need to see the specifics before we can react,” Wario said.
World and Olympic 3,000m Steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi accused the minister of sleeping on the job. “I blame the minister for all this. The Anti-Doping Bill should have been passed long ago. Why did we delay? As athletes, we blame the minister. He failed in his responsibilities,” Kemboi.
He further lamented: “If your house is on fire, do you just sit and watch as it burns? You put out the fire! But what did we do? We just sat back and watched.”
World javelin champion Julius Yego said action needed to be taken against the cheats who had tarnished the name of Kenya.
This is what he posted on his Facebook page: “It’s worrying and painful to remember the sacrifice, perseverance, dedication put towards achieving the success and ultimate goal and suddenly get in against you in any sport! If Kenya will be declared non-compliant then it’s not that Kenyan athletes have been winning through performance enhancing drugs. It’s just the few elements... these are the elements we need to eradicate, @alwayscleanandpure.”
Three-time 1,500 World champion and 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop, posted: “Somebody tell whoever is concerned regarding doping issues that Kenya has talented, hardworking and athletes by nature. We don’t need some stupid bans in the name of a few dopers... Respect this transparent truth and help us to stop the intruders who are fighting not only to win races against us but to finish the real talent in us... Do not demoralise, do not kill a dream. For the sake of true and real ones, spare God-given talents.”
WHAT THE DECISION MEANS
Declaring Kenya non-compliant will be seen as a sign that the organisation is finally getting tough with countries that flout their rules.
In the last few weeks, it has suspended national anti-doping laboratories in Moscow, Beijing, Lisbon and Bloemfontein, raising serious concerns about the effectiveness of drugs-testing in the build-up to Rio.
- As of January 2016, 18 Kenyan athletes were suspended for doping
- Those 18 athletes are serving bans totalling 55 years
- The best known is Rita Jeptoo, who has won the Boston and Chicago marathons
Lilian Moraa Mariita was given the longest ban - eight years for taking steroids
Additional reporting by BBC Sport