Risk of doping in Kenya quite high - WADA

Athletes are set to undergo rigorous anti-doping tests

Kenyan athletes arrive for their training camp at Iten, on January 11, 2016, in the Rift Valley, some 329km north from the capital, Nairobi. On January 14, 2016, (Photo by SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Kenya has once again been listed under Category A on the World Anti-doping Agency's list of nations on the watch for anti-doping violations.

Countries ranked in Category A by WADA have much tougher obligations to meet, prior to a World Athletics Championships and the Olympic Games.

The news was confirmed on Tuesday, April 5 by Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei. Tuwei revealed that AK received a letter from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) that the country will remain classed as a high-risk zone for the rest of the year.

“In accordance to the criteria set out by World Athletics’ national federations anti-doping obligations, it was decided to maintain Athletics Kenya in Category A for 2022,” read the letter in part.

According to AIU rule 15, an athlete selected to represent a country ranked in category A in a major championship is required to have undergone three out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) 10 months before the competition.

It further states that if an athlete competes in any middle distance event from 800m upwards, a long-distance event, a combined event or a race walk event at least one Athlete Biological Passport test and one Erythropoietin (EPO) test will be required.

EPO is banned from sports because it is believed to enhance an athlete's performance and give people who use it an unfair advantage over other competitors. EPO thickens a person's blood by stimulating red blood cell production in the bone marrow.

The rule also states that the tests must have been conducted no less than three weeks apart. According to the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) at least 13 Kenyans have been sanctioned for violating anti-doping regulations so far this year.

Ten of those are suspensions while the other three are bans. The majority of those cases are related to whereabouts failures, which Tuwei said highlighted that negligence was among the biggest challenges in Kenya’s fight against doping.

A WADA report found Kenyan athletes’ knowledge of banned substances to be as follows: 42% reported a low level of knowledge, 26% reported a medium level of knowledge and 30% reported a high level of knowledge.

To get out of Category A, AK has the responsibility to ensure that athletes are aware and kept informed of their whereabouts obligations as well as the following requirements listed out by AIU:

  • Ensure that athletes likely to be selected for the 2022 World Championships in Eugene and subject to the testing requirements under 15.5.1 c) are informed of these requirements. 
  • Ensure there is a robust annual testing plan for this group based on risk assessment in cooperation with your (National Anti-Doping Organizations) NADO including in-competition testing and out-of-competition testing, blood testing and urine testing.
  • Ensure that all samples are collected by the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (Appendix 5 of the World Athletics Anti Doping Rules) and sent for analysis to a WADA-accredited laboratory. 
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