President Uhuru failed by not asking MPs to debate doping bill

Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing Parliament on the State of the Nation. [Photo/Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta failed Kenyans by not asking Members of Parliament to extend their sittings to pass the Anti-Doping Bill of 2016 before they proceeded for a month-long recess, the 2008 Beijing Olympics champion, Wilfred Bungei has said.

Four-time Boston and twice Chicago marathon champion, Robert ‘Mwafrika’ Cheruiyot also slammed the National Assembly for opting to go for the break after President Uhuru’s State of the Union address on Thursday that meant Kenya will miss a second World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deadline since the law cannot be passed before Tuesday.

This came as Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts (Mosca) Dr. Hassan Wario announced through the Director of Administration, Wenslas Ong’ayo on Friday that the Government is in talks with WADA seeking a waiver or a deferment from the April 5 deadline it set for the anti-doping bill to be passed to law.

Wario was a no-show at a function where he was to hand the national flag to the Kenyan ladies golf team for the African Challenge Trophy that is departing for Tunisia in Nairobi since he was reportedly attending a Cabinet meeting with the Head of State.

Speaking from Eldoret, Bungei said the President had what it takes to marshal legislators to pass the bill as a matter of priority since a ban would be disastrous for the nation and communities that depend on athletics for their livelihoods.

“It’s quite irresponsible for Members of Parliament to go on recess without passing anti-doping bill the image of the country is at stake,” the Beijing 2008 Olympics and 2006 World Indoor Championships winner charged.

“Marketing this country has been greatly uplifted by the athletes and banning Kenya is putting the nation in darkness and regaining the same glory would be a tall order,” Bungei added.

He exonerated Athletics Kenya (AK) that has been accused of complicity in dealing with the menace that has seen over 40 athletes banned for doping violations noting the federation did not have legislative powers.

Bungei further called to question the purpose of Rift Valley MPs in Parliament chiding them for not using their numbers to force the house to expedite the passing of the legislation since WADA put the country in its crosshairs last year.

Having represented his nation with distinction at last weekend’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales, men’s silver medallist, Bedan Karoki expressed concern the deadline miss could deflate their efforts to prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“The Government should put more effort to pass the Anti-Doping Bill and ensure that they beat the WADA deadline because it may end up affecting many athletes who depend on the sport as their only source of income

“If parliament fails to support the bill, many athletes will go jobless despite all their hard work. Personally I urge the government to see the bill passed and ensure our dreams as athletes are not wasted,” Karoki urged.

The Guiyang 2015 World Cross silver winner affirmed he would continue with his training regimen despite lack of assurances on the fate of the country.

Speaking separately, Cheruiyot who finished fifth at the Berlin World Championships echoed his colleague in slamming the legislators accusing them of being self serving.

“They could have passed the anti doping bill in matter of minutes, if our MPs were committed.

“How comes if they want to pass anything to do with their salary, the stay late into the night, just in order to finish their business? This is very important to us athletes,” the four-time Boston winner underpinned.

“This is also a lesson to our athletes. In our time, we did not have doping issues. If you want to win, just train and concentrate, in doping you never excel,” the prodigy of former world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat advised.

Cheruiyot who rose from being a barber and chain-smoker was the first athlete to win Boston four times in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008. His 2006 Boston finishing time of 2:07:14 broke the previous course record set by Cosmas Ndeti that had lasted 12 years before Geoffrey Mutai smashed it with his 2:03:02 in 2010.

“It’s now obvious we are going to miss the deadline. Let us wait a see what will happen, but so much could have been done to prevent all this and protect our athletes. As we bid to fight against drug cheats, the Government should also give athletes good incentives they are going out they to represent Kenya.” Cheruiyot who won Chicago in 2006 to become the first Kenyan winner of the USD500,000 World Marathon Majors series jackpot told.

-Waiver request-

World Half Marathon podium finishers from L to R, Bedan Karoki (silver), Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (gold) and Mo Farah (bronze). PHOTO/Getty Images for IAAF
World Half Marathon podium finishers from L to R, Bedan Karoki (silver), Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (gold) and Mo Farah (bronze). PHOTO/Getty Images for IAAF

During Friday’s briefing, Ong’ayo said that they have contacted WADA headquarters in Canada briefing them on the efforts the Government has made in trying to pass the anti-doping bill.

“We have given them our progress and steps where we are including a copy of that bill so to have a look at it during the compliance committee meeting but they shouldn’t discuss Kenya more on that meeting,” he announced.

“The input made into the preparation of the current bill by WADA has been major. The only remaining bit is that Parliament has its roles motion and calendar of events, they have passed the bill at the first reading and we are waiting for them to do it for the second and third reading and if there is any amendment they’ll be done,” Ong’ayo explained.

Kenya delayed in the presentation of the Anti-Doping Bill due to misunderstandings during consultations that Ong’ayo hopes might guide the industry for the next 50 years.

“This is not a matter that needs to be rushed. You have to constantly consult the players in that industry. We are always in touch with the WADA legal experts and the draft we have been able to undergo before we went to the final draft that we took to Parliament was close to about eight drafts.

“The last draft that WADA looked at it and it recommended that it should meet their requirements and was communicated back to us on 17th March. We could not have moved without that particular draft,” he explained Ong’ayo.

Galgalo Ali, the Women’s representative for Isiolo said the bill is being discussed by the Parliamentary Committee for Labour and Social Welfare in a bid to fast track its passage through the house.

“We have sent out the bill for quality control especially through the directorate of legal services through Parliament and we are planning to have during this particular recess a retreat where we are going to give all input to ensure that at least this bill is properly done and the retreat is scheduled for next week and we will discuss the bill,” she declared.

Kenya already missed one deadline on 11th February to pass the anti-doping legislation and provide funding to the anti-doping agency of Kenya.

Report compiled by Michael Bowen, Philip Muchiri, Carol Kones and Paul Kimani

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