By Isaack Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has approved new laws to regulate doping in Kenyan athletics, officials in the East African country said on Thursday.
Kenya, bombarded by allegations of doping with up to 40 cases reported in the past four years, is hoping that the IAAF will remove it from the list of non-compliant nations before this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“WADA has approved amendments to Anti-Doping Act with no additional comment. Next step is Presidential assent and thereafter Kenya is set for full compliance with the WADA Code,” Sports Minister Hassan Wario said on Twitter.
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Wario and Richard Ekai, the highest civil servant in Kenya's Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts, visited WADA headquarters in Montreal, Canada this week to ensure the anti-doping laws legislated by Kenya's parliament last month were compliant with the WADA code.
That followed a recent rejection of parts of the legislation by WADA after Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta had signed the bill into law.
“It gives us the breathing space to focus on Rio Olympics at the strength the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and initiate education programs for athletes on doping,” Wario said.
The IAAF, ruling body of world athletics, is due to meet on Friday in Austria to decide the fate of Russia, which was suspended from international competition in November due to allegations of widespread doping.
The IOC said this month that its extra testing program would apply to Russia, Mexico and Kenya.
Athletics Kenya suspended twice world cross-country champion Emily Chebet last year, about 12 months after three-times Boston marathon winner Rita Jeptoo became the most high-profile Kenyan athlete to be banned after failing a doping test.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)