Kenya's president signed a new anti-doping bill into law Friday. The country risked being banned from the upcoming Rio Summer Olympics amid allegations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by Kenyan athletes.
Signing the anti-doping bill Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya is committed to playing by the book.
“This law is a continuation and not the end of our efforts to stand up against cheating and corruption in the sporting and athletic arena,” he said.
Parliament passed the bill earlier this week after missing two previous deadlines from the World Anti-Doping Agency to enact legislation criminalizing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
FILE - Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo walks past photographers as she arrives at the Athletics Kenya headquarters after failing a doping test, in Nairobi, Jan. 15, 2015.
Since 2011, more than 40 Kenyan athletes have failed drug tests. In February, Kenyan Athletics Federation general manager Isaac Mwangi was suspended for six months for alleged corruption trying to cover up positive drug tests.
Going to Rio
The secretary-general of Kenya’s National Olympic Committee, Francis Paul, welcomes the new law.
“As a country it means quite a lot. We now can rest assured that unless an athlete is caught really doping, we shall be, it means we shall be in Rio because a lot of people were thinking that we were not going to Rio. Even the fundraising that we have been carrying out were hampered by the sponsors feeling that we may not go to Rio so they didn’t find it necessary to start funding us at this moment.”
FILE - Athletics Kenya CEO Isaac Mwangi holds up a copy of the IAAF Competition Rules book, to illustrate his denial that Athletics Kenya would have the power to shave time off athletes’ bans, in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 8, 2016.
The committee has criticized the government in the past for not taking doping seriously.
Penalties and supervision
The law signed Friday lays out penalties for doping and creates a national agency to tackle the problem.
Those found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs face a fine of $1,000 and one year in jail. Those found aiding and abetting doping face fines of $30,000 and three years’ imprisonment.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is set meet on May 12 to discuss Kenya.
Kenyan runners won 11 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympic games, the most medals of any African country that year.