No ban on Kenya but Coe says ruling body will watch closely

Athletics - IAAF Council Press Conference - The Sea Club Conference Centre, Monaco - December 4, 2018 IAAF President Sebastian Coe during the press conference REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Nov 30 (Reuters) - World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said on Wednesday that the governing body would keep a close eye on Kenya after a spate of doping cases but did not issue a ban on the middle and long-distance running powerhouse.

The East African country ranked third in the athletics medal haul at last year's Tokyo Olympics, but has faced accusations of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs for years. read more

Last month, 2021 Boston Marathon winner Diana Kipyokei and compatriot Betty Wilson Lempus were handed provisional suspensions for using a banned substance. read more

"Over the course of one year 40% of all the positives recorded in global athletics are in Kenya," Coe told a news conference after the World Athletics Council meeting in Rome.

"This was not something that the sport - and certainly not something that World Athletics - was prepared just to sort of sit and allow to develop."

The Kenyan government previously said it would supply $5 million a year over the next five years to aid anti-doping efforts, including more tests, investigations and improvements to anti-doping education.

Coe said the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body formed by World Athletics to combat doping, will work with Kenya to implement the plan and communicate the federation's progress.

"I'm pleased that we've got a united response here," said Coe.

He declined to comment on how close Kenya had come to a major suspension, telling reporters he would not provide "a running commentary" on conversations that take place within the council.

"Building back trust will be a long journey," said Coe. "I know that the Kenyan federation, Kenyan government feels this has been a disfiguring period in what should have been a Herculean period for Kenyan athletics."

Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond

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