The World Anti-Doping Agency has placed Kenya on probation and the powerhouse of athletics now faces the risk of being declared non-compliant in a matter of weeks.

In a statement, WADA remarked Kenya would be evaluated by an independent compliance review committee and thereafter make a recommendation to its board. The WADA statement added we have not yet received the details and not even the assurances we need from Kenya and, therefore, this is now a matter for our independent compliance process. The anti-doping agency also said it was “extremely troubled” by reports that two athletes of the country were asked to pay bribes in return for a reduction of their doping suspensions. The 400m runner Joy Sakari and the hurdler Francisca Koki Manunga recently alleged that  Isaac Mwangi, Athletics Kenya chief, asked for a $24,000 payment in return for a reduction of their bans of four years but they could not raise the money.

WADA director general, David Howman, said the World Anti-Doping Agency is the most disturbed by these reports regarding extortion and bribery at the national level of sport, eerily similar sounding to what we learned through the recent independent commission investigation into widespread doping in international athletics. Howman added WADA will of course require more detailed information on these allegations from those concerned so that we can determine if this is a matter for us to investigate or for the International Association of Athletics Federations’ ethics commission as part of its own inquiries. The director general of WADA also remarked the allegations we have heard this week also illustrate the importance of having a robust, independent national anti-doping organization fully functional in Kenya at the earliest opportunity. Howman also said this is a vital step for a country of Kenya’s sporting stature to take if it is to effectively protect clean athletes.

There is however still a possibility that the country could get another deadline and a final opportunity to honor commitments that Kenya made to the anti-doping agency in the context of its anti-doping program. WADA is expecting a decision over the status of Kenya in a few weeks.

The African nation is presently investigated for failure of the Kenyan government to establish and fund a national anti-doping agency and its failure to finalize new anti-doping legislation. The East African country may escape punishment on its athletes from competing internationally but this would be a major embarrassment for Kenya that has been facing severe scrutiny for its doping record.

About 40 athletes of Kenya have failed anti-doping tests since failures of anti-doping program of the country were highlighted in 2012. Some big Kenyan track and field officials have been accused of cover-ups and corruption related to doping cases.

The Russian Athletics Federation was recently suspended from international athletics after it was found guilty of state-sponsored doping. In the case of Kenya, the intervention of WADA is about forcing the Kenyan government to offer the £3.5m needed to fund and staff the fledgling Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya.

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