The run-up to this summer’s Olympics in Rio have been a disaster, between the prevalence of the Zika virus, Brazil’s political upheaval, and deadly problems with Rio’s Olympic infrastructure. It doesn’t help matters that the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) is in the midst of a meltdown, with all manner of shoddy testing and state-sponsored doping programs coming to light and showing that the organization is both impotent and corrupt, which is a hell of a combination.
Your latest scandal involves Kenya, perhaps the biggest national power in track and field and, perhaps unsurprisingly, one with a serious doping problem. (Forty athletes have tested positive since 2011.) A WADA report from yesterday said that the country’s anti-doping program was “non-compliant,” and it thus decided to suspend the Kenyan anti-doping agency, throwing the country’s participation in the Olympics into doubt:
The Foundation Board declared the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) non-compliant with immediate effect. The Kenyan authorities had been given a series of deadlines to introduce a parliamentary bill, policy and rules for the ADAK; however, following a 2 May meeting, WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) confirmed that the outstanding issues had still not been addressed and so made the recommendation of non-compliance to the Board.
Kenya went out of its way to pass very harsh anti-doping measures last month—including prison time for offenders—but apparently their testing standards were still inadequate. This ruling was initially taken as a sign that WADA was going to start acting as if it were more an effective anti-doping body than a public-relations front and punishing nations who sidestepped anti-doping measures.
However, this morning the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared Kenyan athletes to run at the Olympics. The timing is fairly, uh, suspicious and amounts to the IAAF more or less ignoring the WADA announcement:
The declaration of non-compliance by WADA raised the possibility that the IAAF might be emboldened to seek a sterner punishment for Kenya, as it did last year when it banned Russia following a crisis at its anti-doping agency.
But the IAAF said a ruling it made on Kenya in March — when the East African nation was put on a doping “monitoring list” until the end of the year — would stand.
The IOC will have to make the final judgment on whether or not Kenya is allowed to go to Brazil, but they are reportedly expected to side with the IAAF. Given Kenya’s athletics federation’s history of corruption, it’s hard not to raise your eyebrows; whatever the case, it seems that Kenya has a serious doping problem and nobody besides WADA, who can’t do shit, seems to care.
The IAAF claims that if Kenya doesn’t implement standard practices by the year’s end, it will face sanctions in 2017. That looks like a step in the right direction, but without dangling an Olympics ban—and why would they do that?—it’s not going to matter.