World athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, on Friday named five countries including east African track giants Ethiopia and Kenya as being in “critical care” over their anti-doping programmes.
“The reform process has led to more information being shared and recommendations owed at Council level around the fight to protect clean athletes,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.
“To this end, our review by anti-doping teams has identified five countries who the IAAF Council have agreed are in critical care at different degrees.”
Coe said Ethiopia and Morocco had to “implement as a matter of urgency a robust and adequate national testing programme, both in and out of competition”.
Kenya, Ukraine and Belarus were also “put on an IAAF monitoring list for 2016 to ensure their national anti-doping programmes are significantly strengthened and their journey to compliance completed before the end of this year”, Coe added.
“There are no immediate sanctions, it’s just a wake-up call at this point,” the IAAF president said.
“Serious sanctions, also provided for within IAAF rules, will only be considered if they don’t comply with Council requirements.”
Ethiopia and Morocco consistently rank among the top countries in the world for middle and long-distance running.
Recent Ethiopian doping cases include last year’s Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse, one of nine Ethiopian athletes being probed over doping and who tested positive for Meldonium.
Meldonium, for which Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova this week announced she had tested positive, was the same recently-banned substance Sweden’s Ethiopian-born ex-world 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi had also failed for.
Morocco has long been accused of doping, with 37 of its athletes suspended by the IAAF since 2003.
The wake-up call also comes at a pertinent time for Kenya, who topped the medals table at last year’s World Athletics Championships in Beijing.
With about 40 Kenyan athletes caught up in drug scandals in three years and athletics supremo Isaac Mwangin being suspended for corruption involving cover ups, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has already stepped in to tell the African nation to enact reform.
“They are very well aware of what they need to do. They need to reply to us by April 5,” said WADA president Craig Reedie.
“They simply need to do it. If they don’t do it my compliance review committee will take the matter further,” insisted the Briton, adding a declaration of non-compliance was possible after WADA had brought to light institutionalised doping in Kenya.
“We understand funding is now available and they (Kenya) need to pass legislation, we know the type of legislation they are talking about which is acceptable”.