WADA 'very frustrated' with Kenya doping probe
29 October 2013, 14:36
Nairobi - WADA is "very frustrated" with Kenyan authorities over their lack of progress in a doping investigation they promised over a year ago, the world anti-doping body's top official in Africa said on Monday.
Kenya's government and national track and Olympic organizations had assured the World Anti-Doping Agency's president on a personal visit he made in October 2012 that they would appoint a task force to look at allegations of an emerging doping culture in Kenyan athletics made by a German broadcaster earlier that year and ahead of the London Olympics.
Yet 12 months later, WADA hasn't been told whether the investigating team has even started its work, WADA's Africa Office Director Rodney Swigelaar told The Associated Press.
"We are very frustrated," Swigelaar said in a telephone interview in his native South Africa. "It's more than a year now since we went there in October and even longer since the rumors started to spread. ... We have not been informed that this task team is in place."
Swigelaar said he accompanied WADA President John Fahey on his visit, and made two more trips in March and July to meet with government and sports officials in the East African country that has regularly provided world and Olympic champions in middle and long distance running, but whose doping controls have been under scrutiny since German television station ARD said it exposed doping and lax controls in the nation's famed high-altitude and remote training locations.
There has been little progress with the probe, said Swigelaar, who has not had any update from Kenya since July.
"The procrastination has been frustrating," he said. "Officially I cannot say where they are at with their investigation."
The need for Kenya to properly probe the allegations first made by ARD and initially vehemently denied by Kenyan authorities was underlined when 13 of its runners failed doping tests in the 12 months from January 2012 to January 2013, according to the IAAF's published list of banned athletes. Kenya's national track federation conceded in April to the AP that the higher-than-usual number of positive tests — more than one a month — was a concern.
Also, WADA's decision to launch an "extraordinary" audit of Jamaica's national doping agency over a gap in the drug testing of their champion sprinters in the run-up to the London Olympics might give Kenya added impetus to get moving with its investigation, although Swigelaar said there had been no discussions at WADA over any such action in Kenya.
An audit is not part of the thinking yet, but it is "WADA's responsibility to ensure these matters are dealt with," Swigelaar said, adding the first move if Kenya failed to carry out a proper probe would be to report the country for non-compliance of the WADA code.
"We have been patient. We have been extremely patient," the South African said. "Wherever these things happen, it's our role to go in there and ask what is wrong and why people are not complying with the code. I'm not saying we are going the Jamaica route. Whatever is happening in Jamaica, we are still hoping that the Kenyans will stay true to their word, implement the investigation and tell the world whatever they were able to uncover.
"If their athletes are clean and there's no problem, then that's fine. And then if there is a problem, let's see how we can work together."
Swigelaar said he thought Kenya would ultimately implement the investigation and accepted that the government, which is in charge of the inquiry after an agreement with the Olympic committee and national track federation, had logistical issues with the appointment of a new sports minister after national elections in March. The country also was rocked by the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi last month.
While "respecting those issues," Kenya did make commitments, Swigelaar said.
"And we're hoping that they will live up to expectations and deliver what they promised."