Senate defers Anti-Doping law debate due to quorum hitch

Samples collected from athletes to test for doping. PHOTO/File
Samples collected from athletes to test for doping. PHOTO/File

The Senate was forced to defer debate on the Anti-Doping (Amendment) Bill of 2016 until Thursday following lack of quorum to approve the proposed changes to the law.

Senate endorsement is needed before the Bill is forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for assent as the country fights to reverse the Non-Compliance verdict slapped on the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) on May 12.

The National Assembly unanimously passed amendments proposed by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in a special sitting last week with the Senate expected to ratify the law as Kenya seeks to be compliant to the Code.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator and Deputy Leader of the Majority, Kipchumba Murkomen blamed foreigners for introducing prohibited substances to Kenyan runners as he called on stern action on those driving the doping menace.

“Victory comes with personal training, and our athletes’ don’t use drugs when they begin but brought by foreigners’ with bad motives,” he said.

Speaking after coming from State House Nairobi to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta, opposition coalition, CORD Principal and Minority Leader in the Senate, Moses Wetangula called on those responsible for making changes in the initial law that were deemed non-compliant by WADA to be brought to book.

“There must be some lapse somewhere to have the bill edited and clauses removed that made it unacceptable to WADA.

“Those responsible must bear responsibility, whether it’s the Ministry of Sports, the Attorney General Chambers or the Parliamentary Committee for embarrassing the country and causing anxiety to our athletes’ who are preparing for Olympics,” the Bungoma Senator charged.

Wetangula also slammed Athletics Kenya for shoddy treatment of the country’s champion runners.

“There’s serious dictatorship on the management of the athletics that the Government must look into it. I remember in the London 2012 Olympics the athletes were put up in some shadowy village and are given an allowance of 200 to 300 dollars a day yet the said administrators whom have never been known of even jogging have put themselves in five star hotels, paying themselves allowances of 3500 dollars.

“They are living off the sweat of the athletes; we need to bring some sanity,” the Senator decried.

He called on the Upper House to ensure the law that will be presented for assent is good enough for WADA to reverse the non-compliance verdict.

“We need to seal all the loopholes in this Bill and we should have had further consultations but since the Olympics Games are near will let it be due to the sensitivity,” he added.

Contributing to the debate, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior noted the law if passed with the amendments proposed would have grave penalties for drug cheats.

“I have no hesitation in my mind that we are passing a penal law with extreme penal consequences in terms of its definitions and punishment but most importantly it has afforded an opportunity to those persons who are found to have committed any crimes or offences under this law to go and report or go to a tribunal for an appeal,” Kilonzo contributed.

WADA declared ADAK non-compliant after finding fault in 24 clauses of the law signed by President Uhuru on March 24 where changes they had not approved were made either by addition or omission of the final draft.

Soon after the non-compliance verdict was delivered, the Head of State summoned Wario and top ADAK officials to explain why the damning decision was made as world athletics body, IAAF and International Olympics Committee announced Kenya would not be barred from Rio 2016 as earlier feared.

The meeting resolved to send a high powered Kenyan delegation led by Cabinet Secretaries, Amina Mohammed (Foreign Affairs) and Dr. Hassan Wario (Sports) travelled to WADA headquarters in Montreal, Canada to thrash out an agreement before the Amendment Bill was brought to the lower house last week for debate.

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