NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) says it will support Kenya’s plans to put up an anti-doping laboratory in the country, though a definite timeline is yet to be set out.
IAAF Anti-Doping Manager Thomas Capdeville says discussions have been ongoing for a while and the world athletics governing body is putting into serious consideration having a lab in the country.
“It is something we have been discussing and talked of length. As IAAF we are committed to ensuring this happens and most of the support we will give will involve us sending in specialists who are going to train the locals and if need be, we will even put in financial help,” Capdeville told Capital Sport on Monday afternoon.
He was speaking after a meeting with Athletics Kenya, Anti Doping Association of Kenya (ADAK) and government officials at Riadha house on Monday.
ADAK Chief Executive Officer Japhter Rugut says a local lab would be ideal to help Kenya step up its efforts in fighting doping as well as comprehensively reduce sample freighting costs.
“It would be convenient to have the laboratory locally. There is a challenge of ferrying the samples from the collection point, to Nairobi and transmitting the same to a WADA accredited lab. Logistically and financially it would be great,” Rugut said.
He added; “Urine samples are not so hard because it can be ferried almost effortlessly. It would be more complicated now that we have to include blood samples given the time limits needed to reach the laboratory.”
Director of Administration in the Ministry of Sports Harun Komen has indeed affirmed that the government is aiding the process and is hopeful that by the end of April, a fully equipped lab would be available to be inspected by IAAF and approved by WADA.
He also affirmed that ADAK and the government will look to use an already existing health facility and only equip it with necessary equipment other than building up an entirely new facility.
Previously, Kenya had been using labs in Doha and South Africa and with the impending introduction of blood testing, then a local lab would be ideal.
Athletics Kenya president Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei said that the process of blood testing will be introduced and implemented in phases.
“In Kenya we have not been doing this (blood testing) for quite a while but it has reached a stage where we need to introduce some of this. We will introduce that slowly, step by step because we need to educate our athletes in terms of what they are supposed to do,” Tuwei offered.
Kenya is still on the WADA shortlist despite having complied with implementation of the WADA code last year but Tuwei hopes the country can be struck off the list by latest June before the World Championships.
“We have spoken to IAAF, given reports on our progress and to WADA as well. We don’t want whatever happened to our athletes towards Rio last year to happen again this year. We want our athletes to go to London clean, confident and they go compete with the rest of the world with that confidence,” Tuwei offered.
Among the steps the Athletics Federation has taken to address the thorny issue of use of performance enhancing drugs includes forming a panel of six doctors christened the ‘Kenya Doctors Network’ from whom athletes will seek advice from.
Athletes have already been briefed on the same with a workshop having been organised in February over the same.
Kenya has been battling to wash its image of the muddy waters of doping especially with the side shows surrounding the team to the Rio Olympics last year.
IAAF’s Capdeville says he is pleased with the efforts the country has put in, but says more can be done to ensure the country remains clean and off suspicion.