Kenya’s sports minister, Ababu Namwamba, looks to criminalise doping in athletics to end the scourge of doping that is wreaking havoc in the sport of athletics.

Namwamba told BBC Sports Africa, “Right now, the Kenya Anti-Doping Act of 2016 is not, in my view, sufficiently loaded to deal with this challenge with the force required.”

More than 30 athletes have been suspended during 2022 and currently at 55 athletes are serving bans. Kenya is experiencing the most suspensions for doping-related charges in the world. Russia, in comparison, is banned as a nation. Kenya was on the track to be suspended, however, the World Athletics Council decided to monitor the East African country with a $25-million dollar (USD), five-year plan.

“Our initial investigations are that you have a very complex underground syndicate [involved in doping in athletics]. It involves agents, coaches, and doctors so it will need multiple instruments to be deployed to dismantle that syndicate.

“I believe we need to criminalise doping and elevate handling of doping substances to the same level [as] narcotics.

“So in the same way we deal with drug traffickers, we should deal similarly with those engaged in this practice,” added Namwamba.

The only thing in the way of criminalisation is the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does not believe in criminalizing doping. The organisation help thwart a motion to criminalise it in 2016 when Wesley Korir tabled the bill.

The incentive to doping must be outweighed by the risks. Currently, there is no real risk.

At this time, it is well worth the risk financially speaking for Kenyan athletes to dope. A payday from a large marathon can set the athlete up for life. Smaller prize purses can pay a year or several years of the equivalent salary of a farm worker.

Valencia Marathon prize purse (2018)

A total prize purse of US $245,000 was on offer at the World Athletics/Trinidad Alfonso World Half Marathon Championships Valencia.

First place male: 75,000 Euros if under 2:04:30. Prizes 12 deep. See prize page for details. First Spaniard 5,000 Euros; first member of Valencia Athletics Federation 2,000 Euros.

First place female: 75,000 Euros if under 2:20:00. Prizes 12 deep. See prize page for details..First Spaniard 5,000 Euros; first member of Valencia Athletics Federation 2,000 Euros

Bonuses:

Prize website: https://www.valenciaciudaddelrunning.com/en/marathon/regulations-42k-2022/#section3

History website:

Last year male winning time: 2:05:12 in 2021 (Lawrence Cherono)

Last year female winning time: 2:19:31 in 2021 (Nancy Jelagat)

World record bonus

An athlete who surpasses a world record in Valencia will be awarded a $50,000 bonus by World Athletics.

The current ratified world records are:

Men: Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 58:23
Women (single-sex race): Lornah Kiplagat (NED) 1:06:25

The payment of all prize money is dependent upon athletes undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping procedures. Athletes do not always test positive for performance-enhancing drugs. For example, cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to being on a very sophisticated doping regimen. He never tested positive after winning seven Tour de France titles.

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