NAIROBI, Kenya (AFP) -- Kenya is "taking firm measures" to ward off a possible international athletics ban following a flood of doping cases, the country's sports minister said Thursday.
More than 30 Kenyan athletes have been suspended or banned for doping offences this year, with the country's precarious situation expected to be on the agenda during Friday's meeting between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in Monaco.
The problem is not new -- the athletics powerhouse has been in the top category of the WADA watch list since February 2016.
On Thursday, Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba said the government was exploring all available options to tackle the problem and avoid becoming a sporting pariah.
"We cannot allow our nation to be banned because of the actions of some greedy unethical individuals," he said, warning that the "criminal elements and syndicates" behind the menace would be dealt with decisively.
"The government is taking firm measures to protect and uphold the integrity of athletics and sport in general. Our commitment is zero tolerance to doping," Namwamba said in a press statement.
The minister has already written to World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe, saying the government had pledged an annual sum of five million dollars to the national anti-doping agency (ADAK).
"The least they can do for Kenya is put some strict conditions," a senior ADAK official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"Doping is like crime. We cannot completely eradicate it but we can fight to reduce and control it."