Kenya won't miss Olympics despite WADA ruling, IAAF says

ByEspn.com News Services
May 13, 2016, 8:34 AM

— -- Kenya's track and field athletes won't be banned from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite serious concerns over the African country's anti-doping program, the IAAF said Friday.

Despite Thursday's decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency to suspend Kenya's drug-testing agency, the IAAF says its athletes can still compete internationally through the end of 2016.

That means Kenyans will be able to take part in track and field at the Rio Games in August, unless the International Olympic Committee steps in. That is considered unlikely.

A country's anti-doping agency "can be non-compliant for a number of reasons, there are currently a number of others in this position. It does not mean that the athletes will be stopped from participating in the Olympic Games," the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Kenya would "of course" be discussed at the next IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, early next month, the IOC said.

WADA compliance review committee chairman Rene Bouchard of Canada said Thursday that Kenya should be sanctioned because the nation's recently passed legislation setting parameters for its national anti-doping agency did not fully comply with WADA code.

Kenya Sports Minister Hassan Wario said the country will rush through changes to anti-doping legislation in an attempt to be compliant with global rules. Wario said WADA has told Kenyan authorities which parts of the law are problematic.

"As soon as parliament reviews those highlighted bits of the legislation, we are fully compliant," he said.

Wario said he may travel to Montreal, where WADA is based, this weekend to meet with the agency.

WADA doesn't have the power to enforce a ban on Kenya's athletes, but the IAAF does, and it did with Russia after its anti-doping program was declared noncompliant following allegations of corruption and doping cover-ups last year.

The African nation had missed two previous WADA deadlines this year for passage of legal authorization to underpin its national anti-doping agency. A legislative package -- including criminal laws covering sports doping -- passed last month and was expected to put Kenya's new anti-doping agency in the clear.

The IAAF said in a statement to the AP that Kenya remains on a "monitoring list" of countries with doping problems until the end of the year. Track's governing body added that WADA's decision to suspend Kenya's anti-doping program "is a further reflection of the IAAF's concerns about the level of commitment to anti-doping at the national level in Kenya."

Kenya's athletic establishment and, in particular, its perennially dominant distance runners have come under intense scrutiny in recent years for poor to nonexistent drug testing, bureaucratic dysfunction and allegations of corruption.

Forty Kenyan runners have been found guilty of doping violations since 2012, and 18 are currently suspended, according to the most recent documentation on the IAAF website. Four senior track officials are under investigation by the IAAF for potential subversion of the anti-doping process. One of those officials is a current member of the IAAF's governing council and another is a former member.

Kenya won two gold medals and 11 total medals in track events at the 2012 London Games, and the country sent athletes to a handful of other events, including swimming and boxing.

At the most recent world championships in 2015, Kenya topped the medals table with 16.

Information from ESPN senior writer Bonnie D. Ford and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events