Athletics Kenya has banned seven athletes including two-time cross-country world champion Emily Chebet for doping offences.

Chebet, the cross-country world champion in 2010 and 2013, received a doping ban of four years after he tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic and masking agent. The 29-year-old Chebet was a bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and she will be unable to compete until July 16, 2019.

The list of sanctions also included bans for Joyce Zakary and Koki Manunga, who failed drugs tests at the World Championships in Beijing in August. Joyce and Koki were provisionally suspended at the World Championships and received bans of four years for Furosemide. Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto announced plans to criminalize doping after Koki and Zakari tested positive in Beijing.

The other four athletes banned were Agnes Jepkosgei, Bernard Mwendia, Judy Jesire Kimuge, and Lilian Moraa Marita. Agnes Jepkosgei received a doping ban of four years after he tested positive for metabolite of Norandrosterone, an anabolic steroid. A ban of two years was imposed on Bernard Mwendia for testing positive to Norandrosterone. Lilian Moraa Marita received a two-year ban for the blood-booster Erythropoietin (EPO) and Kimuge was banned two years for Norandrolone.

The future of Kenya in World Athletics hangs in the balance as pressure mounts on the country to tackle doping and corruption issues. A harsh warning was issued by Colm O’Connell, the coach of leading Kenyan 800-meter runner David Rudisha, who remarked better testing and monitoring of our athletes has to be put in place immediately if Kenya wants to really move into the Olympics with a clear conscience and with global credibility. Two-time Olympic Champion Kip Keino warned that the next generation of athletes is in danger of being dragged into a world of doping.

In the last few years, there has been a significant spike in doping cases among Kenyan athletes. Since 2012, more than 40 athletes have now failed tests that included high-profile athletes such as Rita Jeptoo. A few days back, Kenyan track officials came under scrutiny after allegations of doping cover-ups surfaced and some officials were accused of money embezzlement at the national federation.

A group of athletes this week stormed the federation headquarters in Nairobi to demand the resignation of top officials over the doping scandals and corruption allegations. The protestors include the 2012 Boston marathon winner-turned politician, Wesley Korir, and former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang. Top Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) official said we want to solve the long standing issues affecting us in regards to corruption, doping and other matters. In reply, Athletics Kenya (AK) chief Jackson Tuwei said we are waiting for the outcome of the meeting and were taken by complete surprise. Tuwei and the other Athletics Kenya officials have been barred from their offices since Monday morning.

It was recently reported by a World Anti-Doping Agency panel that Kenya also has a serious doping problem just like Russia that was recently banned from international athletics competitions.

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