The government is committing to a ‘zero tolerance’ approach as it urges the global athletics governing body not to ban its athletes.

Kenya’s government is urging World Athletics not to ban the country from the sport and vowing to step up its fight against the use of banned substances after a string of their athletes have been banned for doping.

The East African country is world famous for its middle and long distance runners, who have won numerous gold medals at Olympics and World Championships and set record times. Kenya finished in third place in the track and field medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The country has faced allegations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs for years, but the athletics powerhouse has recently been plagued by an increasing number of its runners testing positive. The country has been facing allegations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs for years

Kenya’s sports ministry issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging the “doping crisis” and said Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba had written a letter to World Athletics president Sebastian Coe and “urged the governing body not to ban Kenya .

“The government is taking strong measures to protect and maintain the integrity of athletics,” Kenya’s sports ministry said. The Kenyan government “treated it as a matter of strategic national importance,” it said.

A ban would leave its athletes unable to compete globally, jeopardize its athletes’ plans for the 2024 Paris Olympics and seriously damage the country’s reputation in the sport.

“We will not allow unethical individuals to ruin Kenya’s reputation through doping,” Namwamba said on Twitter on Friday. “We must defeat doping and its perpetrators.”

The government has told the governing body that it has committed an annual amount of $5 million over the next five years to the fight against doping, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.

It also had a “zero tolerance” commitment to doping, Namwamba said.

‘criminal elements’

The World Athletics decision-making council is reportedly set to meet in Rome next week, where Kenya is likely to be discussed.

Fifty-five Kenyan athletes are currently suspended and eight provisionally suspended, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body set up by World Athletics to combat doping in sports.

Kenya is a Category A country under World Athletics anti-doping rules, which means that athletes must undergo at least three unannounced out-of-competition urine and blood tests before major events. There are currently seven Category A countries, including Belarus, Ethiopia and Ukraine.

Among the Kenyans caught using banned substances are Diana Kipyokei, winner of the 2021 Boston Marathon, and compatriot Betty Wilson Lempus, who were provisionally suspended last month for using triamcinolone acetonide.

In April, Kenya 2014 Commonwealth Games champion and Africa 10,000m champion Joyce Chepkirui was suspended for four years over a discrepancy in the 2019 Athlete Biological Passport.

Kenya’s doping problems have been documented for at least a decade and the national anti-doping program, which was found to be ineffective and accused of corruption, was given a major overhaul in 2016 when Kenya’s new Anti-Doping Agency (ADAK) was established.

The National Athletics Federation is also involved in doping-related corruption.

Authorities have largely blamed the problems on small groups of what they call “criminal elements” who make money selling banned performance-enhancing drugs to Kenyan runners. Kenya has taken measures to criminalize doping.

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