On Tuesday (Nov. 30) Kenya avoided becoming a sporting pariah as World Athletics president welcomed its government’s pledge of a financial package to combat doping in what he called “a long journey” to build trust.
“The Kenyan federation and government feel this (doping) has been a disfiguring period in what should have been a Herculean period for Kenyan athletics,” Sebastian Coe said after a World Athletics Council meeting in Rome.
“But I’m really delighted because all the stakeholders that matter, both domestically and internationally, are now aligned to do everything we can to resolve this issue.”
Following talks with Kenya’s new Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba, Coe said: “We made some real progress.”
The Kenyan government pledged $25 million (24.20 million euros) over five years to help finance more anti-doping personnel, increase testing and investigation, bolster education programmes and also “deeper dive into entourages”.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) will “work closely with Kenyan government to try and resolve this as quickly as it possibly can”.
The east African track and field giants have 55 athletes listed on the AIU’s global list of ineligible persons, last updated on November 21. A further eight are listed as being provisionally suspended.
The doping problem, however, is not new. The athletics powerhouse has been in the top category on the WADA watch list since February 2016, alongside only Bahrain, Belarus, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria and Ukraine.
In a further announcement, Coe confirmed that the 2024 World Relays, which will act as a qualifier for the Paris Olympics, will be held in Nassau, Bahamas, it was announced Wednesday.
The allocation of the sixth edition of the World Relays came in the wake of last month’s announcement that the Chinese city of Guangzhou had opted not to host them “due to the ongoing pandemic conditions”.
Nassau hosted the three opening World Relays editions, in 2014, 2015 and 2017, before they moved to Yokohama, Japan, in 2019 and Chorzow in Poland last year.