DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Kenya faces the prospect of being banned from international athletics because of doping problems that have now reached “crisis” levels, according to authorities in the country.
The threat of an imminent ban by track and field governing body World Athletics, which would have repercussions for a number of medal contenders at next year’s world championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics, was conceded by the country’s sports ministry in a statement issued on Thursday.
In it, the ministry said there was a “doping crisis” in the East African nation and said that sports minister Ababu Namwamba, who was in Qatar for the soccer World Cup, had written to World Athletics president Sebastian Coe and “urged” the governing body “not to ban Kenya.”
“Government is taking firm measures to protect and uphold the integrity of athletics,” the Kenyan sports ministry said. The Kenyan government was “treating it as a matter of top strategic national interest,” the ministry said.
The ministry gave assurances that it was working to solve the doping problems in an apparent effort to stave off a ban.
World Athletics is due to hold a meeting of its decision-making Council in Rome this week, when the issue of Kenya is reportedly due to be discussed.
A ban might force Kenya into a Russia-type situation, where the sanction is applied to the national track federation and athletes are forced to apply to compete as neutrals and not under their nation’s flag at major championships. Russia’s track federation has been suspended since 2015 because of a massive, state-sponsored doping scandal.
Previous action against Kenya has focused on problems at the national anti-doping agency and hasn’t affected athletes competing.