Kenya tables anti-doping bill, fails to beat WADA deadline

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Nairobi, March 31 (IANS) The Kenyan government is seeking an extension of Tuesday’s World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deadline after authorities admitted they will not pass the law to curb the vice in time to comply with its code.

The country was granted a two-month extension that expires on April 5 to put measures, including legislation in place, to stem the menace that has seen 38 Kenyan athletes suspended for doping violations since 2012 or face the risk of a ban from international competition, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, having missed an initial February 11 deadline, WADA placed Kenya among the five countries that are on the red list and on Wednesday afternoon, the proposed Anti-Doping Bill of 2016 was read for the first time in the country’s National Assembly.

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Speaking during the reading, the Majority Leader of the House Adan Duale asked Kenya’s cabinet secretary in charge of sports to petition WADA for another extension to allow the country’s parliament to fast-track the legislation.

“We have shown commitment and are ready to write to WADA, seeking an extension so that the bill goes through public participation as required before it’s enacted,” Duale announced.

According to the Majority leader, it would take at least 20 days to push the bill through in the house before it is enacted into law, paving the way for the country’ s President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign it into law.

The government-sponsored bill that is in its seventh draft had the inputs of WADA in preparing it for presentation in the house for debate but during the first reading in parliament, no deliberations took place.

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Kenya’s National Assembly will go on recess on Thursday after the State of the Nation address by President Kenyatta, meaning the country cannot meet the deadline to conform to the code that has the enactment of legislation to tackle the vice as one of its key requirements.

The legislative process in the country that has an established tradition of excellence includes incorporating stakeholders’ views and debating the bill that could take months with the 2012 Boston Marathon champion and Cherangany Member of Parliament Wesley Korir also intending to forward his proposed anti-doping law that conflicts with the government’s draft as part of amendments during the third reading.

Last week, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi who had ordered that the matter be expedited, announced the government bill is the one that would be brought for debate.

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Speaking on Tuesday, National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) chairman Kipchoge Keino warned that Kenya has no choice but to pass the bill or face sanctions.

“With the WADA deadline of April 5 when we must have passed the law prohibiting doping or we will be declared non-compliant to WADA Code. Parliament should pass the law within a day,” the 1968 and 1972 Olympics champion begged.

Unless there is urgent intervention, Kenya will be at the greatest risk yet of an international ban that would possibly rule her celebrated track and field team that topped the world at the 2015 Beijing World Championships out of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in August.

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