Wednesday - April 20th 2016

Kenyan athletes are one step closer to competing in the Rio Olympics after an anti-doping bill demanded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was passed by Kenya’s parliament overnight.

The bill, criminalising doping in sport, is expected to be signed into law this week by Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta after numerous doping suspensions of high profile athletes in the East African nation.

However Drug Free Sport NZ (DFSNZ) chief executive Graeme Steel says the law change requires follow up action otherwise it’s just another piece of paper.

“What New Zealand athletes require is comfort that their competitors from Kenya are under the same controls as they are,” he says.

“The law is an important first and necessary step but still not sufficient.”

New Zealand athletes will face Kenyan athletes across many codes in the Rio Olympics, most notably, long and middle distance running and rugby sevens. 

“It’s one thing to have a law but the real requirement is an effective programme on the ground,” Mr Steel says.

Since 2012, almost 40 Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests, including Rita Jeptoo, a Chicago marathon champion and former three-time Boston City Marathon winner.

Kenya had earlier missed two deadlines set by WADA to show it was serious about dealing with the problem and gave Kenya a final four-week extension earlier this month to approve the bill. If it passes into law later this week, Kenyan athletes could be imprisoned for up to 12 months and face a hefty fine if found guilty of doping.