No ‘cover-up’ of drugs in Kenyan athletics – Lord Coe

Lord Coe speaks at a press conference
Lord Coe has been the President of World Athletics since 2015

There is “no indication” of any state-sponsored drug-cheating in Kenyan athletics despite a series of high-profile doping scandals, says World Athletics president Lord Coe.

Russia received several bans after that a 2016 report found evidence of a state-sponsored doping program in many sports – but when it comes to athletics, 40% of those currently serving bans are Kenyans.

“We took a different approach with Kenya than we took with Russia because they were two different cases,” Coe said at a joint media conference in Nairobi where he praised the work being done by the Kenyan government.

“The case against Russia was about cover-ups that were planned at the level of state power, but there is no indication that this is the case in Kenya. In fact, just the opposite.

“The fact that all these agencies are aligned and ready to work alongside the World Athletics Organization and the Athletics Integrity Unit is a very, very important statement.”

Kenya’s sports minister, Abadu Namwamba, has pledged to spend $25 million over the next five years to clean up the sport and he also hopes to make doping a criminal offence.

“Instead of hiding from these grim statistics, instead of burying our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, we have risen to the challenge,” he said.

“We agreed that we had a problem and we set about preparing to confront the problem head on.”

Coe chose Kenya as the destination for his first international tour in 2023, meeting not only with Namwamba, but also with the country’s new president, William Ruto, the national governing body of Athletics Kenya, anti-doping bodies and numerous athletes.

Lord Coe stands with a group of athletics officials and competitors from Kenya
Among the officials and athletes Lord Coe met during his visit was African and Commonwealth 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala (third from right)

“The journey will be a long journey,” he warned.

“We shouldn’t kid ourselves that it will be achieved overnight. But the goal is worth it.”

Coe added that he was “satisfied” with the commitment shown by the Kenyan authorities, particularly Ruto.

But he emphasized that, although “all the plans are in order”, the task now is to implement and monitor these plans “to make sure we are making real progress”.

Starting this year, Kenya is expected to increase the number of annual drug tests to 3,000, as well as expand its education program.

“Sports is what brands Kenya more than anything else,” added Namwamba.

“Athletics gives Kenya the global image we enjoy – and we cannot put that reputation at risk.”

Seventeen Kenyan athletes failed doping tests in 2022, while a total of 55 are currently serving bans.

Kenya will bid for the 2029 World Cup

After losing the bid to host the 2025 World Athletics Championships, Namwamba also chose to hold a press conference on Thursday to announce that Kenya will bid for the 2029 event, seeking to become the first African country to host the global championships.

“We will be in a very good position to make a very, very convincing bid because we can’t be such a big athletics power and we’re not bringing world athletics to Nairobi,” Namwamba said, before adding that his nation would “count on goodwill”. Coe.

Kenya also recently announced plans to submit a joint bid for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *