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Redeem Kenya’s image in the sporting arena

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There was a great sigh of relief when it was announced that Kenya would be allowed to compete in the Rio Olympic Games after all, even though it had failed to fully comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

It was noted that although Kenya had enacted legislation outlawing doping, some technical provisions of the Anti-Doping Act 2016 passed by the National Assembly, were inconsistent with the WADA anti-doping code. Because of these inconsistencies, WADA declared Kenya non-compliant and recommended that the country be withdrawn from the Olympics.

Fortunately, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) opted to grant Kenya a reprieve, despite the country missing several deadlines to attain full compliance to this code.

This was a demonstration of patience — patience to allow athletics authorities and the Government put in place requisite laws to help curb the spate of doping. The IOC and IAAF, however, insist that Kenya will remain in the watch-list of countries whose athletes have been adversely cited for cheating.

It is a shame that this country finds itself in the same basket with ones involved in systematic doping, especially after the sacrifices made by honest athletes who have won their recognition as world beaters by the brow of their sweat.

Which begs the question? How did we find ourselves in this position? Why is it that the technical team in Athletics Kenya and its collaborators in the Ministry of Sports could not offer appropriate advice to the National Assembly on these technical aspects of the law?

There has been a patently lethargic approach to sporting issues by officials in the Sports ministry and this does not bode well for the general development of sport in this country.

Even as we delve into these issues, we must satisfactorily find out why doping cases have been on the rise.

In the next month or so, we will be selecting sportsmen and women to represent the country in the Rio Games. As they prepare for these games, these sportsmen and women will not want to be distracted by the aspersions cast on them by a suspicious sports audience. It is bad enough that a role has been thrust on them to prove that Kenya’s sports heroes are no cheats. The ministry must do everything it can to redeem Kenya’s image.

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