Kenya was on Wednesday spared an international ban from athletics, although the country will be “monitored closely” by World Athletics due to the spiralling cases.
At a news conference from Rome that was streamed live to the expectant east African distance running powerhouse, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe noted assurances from the country’s government to increase funding to fight doping had saved them from a ban.
“For Kenya, building trust in the athletics world due to the high number of athletes failing doping tests will be a long process,” Coe said in his remarks delivered after the World Athletics Council concluded their two-day meeting in the Italian capital, reports Xinhua.
The announcement comes as a reprieve for the country that has seen cases escalate to an all-time high annual spike, with almost 30 Kenyan athletes provisionally suspended or banned for anti-doping violations so far this year.
Another 20 or so cases are currently under review by the Athletics Independent Unit — the independent anti-doping body of World Athletics, as well as the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK).
Following reports on Nov. 23 that an imminent ban was looming, the Kenyan government, through the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and the Arts Ababu Namwamba, contacted Coe to assure the global body they were committed to stamping out doping.
“We laud the President of World Athletics, Lord Sebastian Coe, for acknowledging our efforts in this regard. Coe praised the government’s action and plan in the fight against the threat of doping,” Namwamba said in a statement released on Nov. 27.
Under the agreement, the Kenyan government has increased funding for anti-doping efforts which will see it spend five million U.S. dollars per year for the next five years, and this money will go to the ADAK and Athletics Kenya.
Kenya has been blacklisted as a “Category A” country in the list of nations under the highest risk of doping violations since 2017.