Save Kenya from doping shame, Mr Ababu Namwamba

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi,  October 21, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard] 

Kenya’s reputation as a global athletics powerhouse risks being sacrificed on the altar of doping.

Over the last few years, doping has increasingly dented the country’s reputation and eroded the stature of our world beaters in athletics. 

This year alone, about 30 Kenyan athletes have been suspended or banned after random doping tests turned positive.

Doping is a proscribed practice that enables athletes to enhance their endurance and performances by using banned performance enhancing drugs like erythropoietin (EPO). 

Ordinarily, EPO is used to treat anaemia, a shortage of red blood cells in the body, but some athletes and their agents have found other uses for it. At some point, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) placed Kenya on the doping watch list. However, Kenya was taken off the list of ignominy in 2017 after the country established the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) and addressed some of the doping concerns at the time. 

The doping headache cuts across the board, but must be contained through tough laws. In 2020, for instance, the United States of America crafted the Rodchenkov Act, named after Russian whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, to make it illegal to knowingly influence a sports competition by use of a prohibited substances. The law targeted not just athletes, but all conspirators in line with the dictates of WADA laws.

These are the types of laws that ADAK should endeavour to have incorporated in our laws and rigidly enforce them to beat the growing menace of doping. Yet to succeed, ADAK must be empowered both financially and materially, away from political interference that is so common in our sporting activities. 

The new Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has his work cut out for him. In fact, having served in the same ministry before, he is no stranger to the intrigues in that docket. He should go for the culprits bare-knuckled for him to restore the country’s sporting fame.

Mr Namwamba knows what ails the ministry and must find a cure for this malady and unflinchingly apply it.

The Standard
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