Kenya: Law makes doping a criminal offense

Kenya: Law makes doping a criminal offense

Kenya passed a law in April 2016 that criminalizes doping by athletes and threatens drug cheats with prison sentences.

To help the country avoid sanctions from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the long-awaited anti-doping bill after lawmakers passed it. The law also gives Kenya’s new national anti-doping agency the legal power to operate.

The new law allows for a three-year prison term and a U.S. $30,000 fine for people found guilty of doping-related offenses. An athlete could also be sent to jail for one year for failing or refusing to submit to a doping test.

Kenya’s punishments are tougher than what WADA was seeking. WADA is against authorities taking criminal action against athletes for doping, believing they should face sporting sanctions such as bans.

Amid a doping crisis that has undermined its reputation as the leading distance-running nation in the world, Kenya has gone further.

Since the 2012 London Olympics, 40 Kenyan athletes have been banned for doping. Also, four senior track federation officials were suspended on allegations of corruption and doping cover-ups.

The law was met with relief by some of Kenya’s top athletes, who feared being thrown out of the Rio Olympics.  The Associated Press