LONDON (Reuters) - WADA president Craig Reedie would be surprised if Kenyan athletes were missing from this year’s Olympic Games, saying it would be a blow to the African nation’s pride.
Kenya, one of the most successful countries in middle and long-distance running, has until April 5 to bring its anti-doping structure in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s requirements or face having its top athletes barred from competing in Rio.
It has already missed a February deadline.
“I would be very surprised that Kenyan politicians didn’t do everything they could to make sure their wonderful athletes do make it to the Olympics Games,” Reedie told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s the pride of the country in many ways.”
Reedie said it had been a frustrating process trying to make Kenya, 40 of whose athletes have been banned for doping in the last three years, become WADA compliant.
“I saw the Kenyan sports minister looking at the developing Qatar (anti-doping) lab two years ago and he promised me there would be the national anti-doping lab would be up and running in 14 months. Here we are two years later,” he said.
Dick Pound, chair of the investigation that led to an ongoing ban for Russian track and field athletes from Rio, was cautiously optimistic that Kenya would not find itself in the same boat as the European powerhouse.
“Kenya are at least getting to the point where the legislation (for the anti-doping lab) will be in place some time in the next 10 days,” he told Reuters.
”Whether that will be applied or not, is another matter.
“Some people might say that before we give a green light to Kenya they will want to have people on the ground to see what’s actually going on.”
“Hopefully, when they see the number one sport in the number one country (Russia) has not been spared any compliance within the rules, others will say, come on, let’s get compliant.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond