Athletics-World Athletics' Coe praises Kenyan response to doping

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe addresses a news conference on the state of Kenya's athletics and anti-doping plan during his visit to Nairobi, Kenya January 5, 2023. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

NAIROBI (Reuters) - World Athletics President Sebastian Coe on Thursday praised Kenya's commitment to addressing doping after several positive tests for banned substances.

The middle and long-distance running powerhouse avoided a ban in November despite an increasing number of its athletes being suspended for positive tests.

Kenya's government said at the time it would supply $5 million a year over the next five years to aid anti-doping efforts, including more tests, investigations and education.

During a visit to Kenya, Coe contrasted the approach of the country's sports authorities with that in Russia, which he said involved state-supervised cover-ups.

"There is no suggestion that that is the case in Kenya; in fact, quite the reverse," Coe said during a news conference alongside Kenya's sports minister.

"The fact that all these (Kenyan) agencies are in alignment and prepared to work alongside World Athletics and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is a very, very important statement," he said, while cautioning that Kenya faced a "long journey" to root out doping.

Russia has acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping rules, but denies running a state-sponsored doping programme.

Kenya has faced accusations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs for years. In 2016, it put in place an anti-doping law with stiffer penalties in order to avoid a ban from the Rio Olympics.

But there has been a recent spate of high-profile cases. In December, Kenya's Diana Kipyokei was disqualified as the 2021 Boston Marathon women's winner after being handed a six-year ban for using the prohibited substance triamcinolone acetonide.

In the same month, another Kenyan, 2017 Paris Marathon winner Purity Rionoripo, was banned for five years after testing positive for the banned diuretic furosemide.

As of November, 55 Kenyan athletes were banned and eight provisionally suspended, according to the AIU, an independent body established by World Athletics to combat doping.

Coe also met with Kenyan President William Ruto during his visit.

"Kenya will not spare any efforts in the fight against doping," Ruto said on Twitter after the meeting.

(Reporting by Jefferson Kahinju; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Aaron Ross and Toby Davis)

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