March 30, 2016 / 4:17 PM / 3 years ago

Kenya tables anti-doping bill but set to miss deadline

Athletes exercise in the early morning in the sports ground of the University of Eldoret in western Kenya, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya tabled a much-anticipated anti-doping bill in parliament on Wednesday but it will not be passed in time for the country to meet a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deadline.

The bill is a key requirement for the east African nation, famed for its distance runners but tarnished by some 40 doping cases in recent years, to be declared compliant with the WADA code ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics starting on Aug. 5.

Kenya was given a deadline to enact the law or be declared non-compliant, which brings WADA sanctions, but the country’s parliament goes into recess for 10 days on Thursday so the bill cannot become law before time runs out on April 5.

The sport’s governing International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said this month it was highly unlikely Kenya would be suspended from the Olympics but several sports leaders want president Uhuru Kenyatta to push the bill through.

“I’m urging the president to intervene and help the youth of this country,” the chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K), Kipchoge Keino, said on Wednesday. A presidential decree would ensure the bill became law by the deadline.

Among the bill’s recommendations, which have been drawn up according to WADA statutes, are heavy fines for athletes, agents and organizations who promote the use and/or trafficking of performance-enhancing substances.

It also makes athletes responsible for what goes into their bodies and for always being available for testing.

Kenya, which has set up a national anti-doping agency, failed to meet the first deadline of Feb. 11 to prove it was doing enough to tackle the problem with WADA putting the country on probation and saying there was a lot of work still to do.

Editing by Ken Ferris

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