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Hard times for doping athletes as Uhuru signs Anti-Doping Amendment Bill

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday signed the Anti-Doping (Amendment) Bill, 2020 into law.

The new law amends the Anti-Doping Act of 2016 to align Kenya’s legislative framework with the 2021 World Anti-Doping code and regulations.

The new anti-doping law also ensures the continued participation of Kenyan athletes in local, regional and international competitions in line with the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention against doping in sports.

The National Assembly passed the Anti-Doping (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on December 22nd while the Senate passed it on 29 December 2020 before it was presented to the President for signing on Thursday, beating the 1st January 2021 deadline set to bar athletes from non-compliant countries from participating in international sporting competitions.

Uhuru’s concerns

When he was presiding over the official reopening of the Nyayo National Stadium in September, 2020, President Uhuru had expressed concern over the rising number of Kenyan athletes who tested positive for banned substances.

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Uhuru had called upon the Sports Ministry to enhance anti-doping education to athletes to prevent further violations. In 2019 alone, 15 Kenyan athletes were banned for anti-doping violations.

In July 2020, four Kenyan athletes were banned after they were found guilty of anti-doping violations.

They included 2017 World 1500m gold medalist Elijah Manangoi, long-distance runner Patrick Siele, 2018 Rotterdam Marathon Winner Kenneth Kipkemoi (2 years), and 2013 Venice Marathon winner Mercy Kibarus (8 years).

In June 2020, former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang was banned for four years for tampering with an anti-doping control.

Other notable names of Kenyans athletes who have been found guilty of doping include; 2016 Olympic women’s marathon champion Jemima Sumgong, and 2011, 2013 and 2015 world 1500 metres gold medalist Asbel Kiprop.

According to Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) figures, there are 66 track and field competitors in Kenya who are currently suspended because of anti-doping violations.

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