Sports Tribunal to Handle Doping Cases

By francis marangu
Mar 04, 2021

The Sports Disputes Tribunal will have immense and exclusive powers to arbitrate on doping cases which have been a hot topic in the country for the past year.

Once Kenya complies with the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) requirements by the set deadline of April 5, the tribunal will have total jurisdiction of all cases touching on doping.

On Friday, the tribunal held a validation workshop to sensitize stakeholders on their draft rules including those on doping.

The Anti-doping Bill 2016 which is being formulated by Anti-doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) states that “the tribunal shall have jurisdiction for doping related cases affecting competitive athletes, athlete support personnel and sports organizations”.

In the tribunal’s draft rules that were canvassed by stakeholders, they have set clear procedures that will be followed in filing such cases by concerned parties. “ADAK will be prosecuting their cases at the tribunal once they have done tests and investigations on athletes suspected to have used prohibited drugs,” Chairman John Ohaga said.

“If ADAK is not happy with our decision, they can appeal and if the athletes are not happy they can appeal as well. Basically, we are setting a platform that avoids the court.”

ADAK will be supplying evidence to the tribunal for all the cases they file. The tribunal will then start disciplinary hearing and make a ruling based on the evidence received. For any dissatisfied party, the tribunal will establish an appeals panel to hear the appeal that must come within 30 working days of the ruling.

“The decision of the panel will be final locally. If the doping case involves an international athlete or international event, they can then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” Ohaga added.

Njeri Onyango, a member of the tribunal said they will be using original evidence from ADAK. “The most important thing when handling doping cases is fair and expeditious hearing as well as privacy,” she observed.

Feedback by stakeholders

The tribunal will take two weeks to go through the feedback given by stakeholders and align their draft rules to that. Then, they will be forwarded to the Attorney General who can then make recommendations on changes to be further made.

Ohaga said they expect the rules to have been gazetted by June.

For close to a year they have been operational, the tribunal has been working without formal rules but Ohaga said it did not affect their work. “There is no way a party would have rejected our ruling because there were no rules.”

In his address to the stakeholders, he said they are seeking to operate differently from how tribunals in the country do their work. He noted that the critical thing is to serve justice without bias. “We are a tribunal that wants to serve you in the best way. We are not a traditional tribunal and we have decided not to stick to traditions,” he said.

“We are a groundbreaking tribunal that ensures the rule of natural justice is adhered to always without miscarriage of justice.” He added that effective two-way communication will be one of the key driving forces for their work.

“Unlike other tribunals, I address the press because there is a constituency that we need to reach out to. We are open to any form of communication whether by email or phone conversation,” he noted.

“In future subject to funding, we want to have video conferencing facilities in the courtroom so that parties can make submissions even when they are away. It's our mission to be accessible to all and easily.”

The day-long workshop attracted stakeholders from key sporting associations, Ministry of Sports, Sports Registrar Rose Wasike and Sports Kenya CEO Gordon Oluoch among others. Robert Asembo, Ellyna Shiveka and Maria Kimani took attendees through the rules.

“What the rules will do is give you a framework on how to approach the tribunal and understand how your decision will be reached at. I hope the rules we have put before you will help in getting justice at the tribunal,” Ohaga concluded.