World athletics chief Sebastian Coe says the IAAF will not shirk from its duty to ban Kenya from the Olympics if the country is declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency, British media reports said on Thursday.
Athletics powerhouse Kenya, which topped the medals table at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, has had more than 40 athletes banned for doping in the past three years.
A regional anti-doping official said last week Kenya faced a race against time to prove to WADA it was dealing with the issue or it could join Russia in being declared non-compliant.
According to reports in two British newspapers, Coe has told BT Sport TV that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) would take any action necessary to restore the reputation of the sport.
“We know that a disproportionate amount of reputational damage is caused by a relatively few countries and we have to be very much more proactive,” the IAAF president was quoted as saying in an interview to be broadcast later on Thursday.
“Yes, if it means pulling them out of world championships or Olympic Games then we will have to do that.
“I know the World Anti-Doping Agency has looked very closely at the Kenyan National Anti-Doping Agency. We, of course, monitor that through the IAAF so that work is ongoing.”
The East African nation’s case was not helped when Athletics Kenya Chief Executive Isaac Mwangi was asked to step aside for 21 days this week pending an investigation into allegations he sought bribes to reduce the doping bans of two athletes.
Mwangi has described the allegations as a “fabrication”.
Russia was banned from world athletics in November following allegations of widespread and state-sponsored doping in a report by WADA.
Athletics are the highlight of the second half of the Olympic program and the absence of two powerhouses of the sport would be a major blow to this year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
Coe said a decision on Russia’s return would depend on their WADA compliance and would not be rushed because of pressure from governments or the Olympic movement.
The former Olympic champion middle distance runner also said restoring trust in the sport after the scandals of the last year was a long-term project.
“We can make the changes but the journey is going to be ultimately when people, and particularly when clean athletes, feel … they’ve got anti-doping systems that they can trust in,” he said.
“Parents, who in large parts nudge their kids towards certain sports, they’ve got to feel that we’re not a sport full of junkies.”