PHOTO BY: INSIDE THE GAMES

Kenya faces the prospect of being banned from international athletics because of doping problems that have now reached “crisis” levels, according to authorities in the country.

The threat of an imminent ban by track and field governing body World Athletics, which would have repercussions for a number of medal contenders at next year’s world championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics, was conceded by the country’s sports ministry in a statement issued yesterday.

The ministry gave assurances that it was working to solve the doping problems in an apparent effort to stave off a ban.

World Athletics is due to hold a meeting of its decision-making Council in Rome next week, when the issue of Kenya is reportedly due to be discussed.

A ban might force Kenya into a Russia-type situation, where the sanction is applied to the national track federation and athletes are forced to apply to compete as neutrals and not under their nation’s flag at major championships.

Russia’s track federation has been suspended since 2015 because of a massive, state-sponsored doping scandal.

Previous action against Kenya has focused on problems at the national anti-doping agency and hasn’t affected athletes competing.

Kenya won 10 medals in athletics at the Tokyo Olympics last year; four golds, four silvers and two bronzes.

Only the United States won more medals in athletics.

Kenya collected another 10 medals at this year’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Again, only the U.S. won more.