Kenya has beaten the World Anti-Doping Agency’s May deadline to enact an anti-doping law after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the bill into law on Friday in Nairobi.
WADA had given Kenya until May 2 to enact an anti-doping law after Kenya had failed to meet two earlier deadlines in February and April.
The Kenyan parliament passed the anti-doping bill on Tuesday, paving the way for Kenyatta to assent to it.
According to a statement by the Presidential Service Communications Unit (PSCU), the signing ceremony, which took place at State House Nairobi, was witnessed by prominent sportsmen and women.
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Sports and the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts, Hassan Wario, were also in attendance.
Speaking during the ceremony, the President made it clear that the signing of the law was not an end in itself.
He said it was rather the continuation of his government’s efforts to stand against cheating and corruption in the sports and athletics arena.
“As I’ve repeatedly emphasised, Kenya is 100 per cent committed to ensuring total compliance with international regulations on sports and athletics, either they were set by WADA, IAAF, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or any other international organisation,” said Kenyatta.
He said Kenya was committed to ensuring that Kenyan sports teams competed by the book because “we believe that, across the board, Kenyans are more than able to win fairly’’.
The President pointed out that cheating in whatever way was a disservice to the potential of players and the talent of athletes.
He expressed confidence that WADA would look upon the passage of the anti-doping law favourably as a sign of Kenya’s unwavering commitment to meeting the highest international standards.
“Yet even as our national leadership takes these necessary steps to compliance, I want to urge our athletes and sportsmen and women to hold themselves to the highest possible code of conduct,” added Kenyatta.
He said Kenyan athletes had earned a reputation as sportsmen and women of the highest stature through hard work over the years.
“That reputation has been earned diligently through the exertion and effort, sweat and sacrifices of many hardworking men and women,” the President said.
However, Kenyatta made it clear that those who breached the law would be punished, be they individual athletes or teams.
A statement by WADA on April 7 said the WADA Foundation Board would vote on the matter of Kenya’s anti-doping compliance at its next meeting in Montreal on May 12.
As part of its enhanced compliance process under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code (Code), WADA formed an independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC).
The committee was tasked with providing independent advice, guidance and recommendations to WADA and its Foundation Board on compliance-related matters.
WADA said the CRC had concluded in April that Kenya was not in compliance with the 2015 Code, since the bill, policy and anti-doping rules had not been formally adopted.
The CRC had said unless the bill, policy and anti-doping rules were formally adopted by May 2, its recommendation to the WADA Foundation Board would be to declare Kenya non-compliant.
This would have led to Kenya being banned from the Rio Olympics and other IAAF events.