Uhuru signs Anti-Doping bill, paves way for tighter measures for athletes

President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed the Anti-Doping (Amendment) Bill, 2020 into law.– By Gerald Gekara.

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.

The World Anti-Doping Code (Code) is the fundamental and universal document on which the World Anti-Doping Program is based. Its purpose is to advance the anti-doping effort through universal harmonization of core anti-doping elements.

Uhuru Kenyatta has for long been troubled over the rise in doping incidents among Kenyan athletes.

Speaking during the official reopening of the Nyayo National Stadium, Kenyatta warned the country’s reputation was being damaged by athletes who test positive for banned substances.

He also claimed that the number of Kenyan athletes serving drugs bans is still relatively small, despite Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) figures showing there are 66 track and field competitors in the nation who are suspended.

“We have had the use of illicit products among our sportsmen. Even though these cases are tiny, they are troubling.”

Notable names on the list of Kenyan banned include the 2016 Olympic women’s marathon champion Jemima Sumgong and former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang.

The 2011, 2013 and 2015 world 1500 metres gold medallist Asbel Kiprop is also banned, as is Elijah Manangoi, who succeeded him in 2017.