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Nairobi approved for E Africa’s first WADA lab

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The lab is scheduled to begin operations in September and is expected to analyse between 800 and 1000 blood samples a year

NAIRIOBI, Kenya, Aug 27 – Nairobi is scheduled to host the first ever World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in East Africa after the LANCET Group of Labs received an approval from the Anti-Doping watchdog for Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) blood analysis.

The lab is scheduled to begin operations in September and is expected to analyse between 800 and 1000 blood samples a year as part of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) doping control programme in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Eritrea.

The approval is a culmination of a nine-month project initiated and funded by the AIU, with support from the International Athletics Foundation.

“From now on, the analyses of blood samples will be performed locally. This will give us more efficiency, more responsiveness and less predictability in our testing programme in the region and a foothold in neighboring countries where it was extremely difficult to collect blood samples in the past. This is very timely especially in the context of next year’s IAAF World Championships in Doha,” Brett Clothier, Head of the AIU, stated.

“LANCET Group of Labs East Africa is proud to contribute to the fight against doping through this partnership. WADA’s approval is a great recognition of the professional standards and skills of our facility in Nairobi,” Ahmed Kalebi of the LANCET Group of Labs East Africa said.

LANCET Group of Labs have promised to provide quality service throughout and also hope the approval of the lab will become a long-standing involvement in the fight against doping.

The laboratory in Nairobi will perform blood analyses to support the AIU’s ABP program as well as other anti-doping programs operating in the area such as that of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK).

Further training

According to a communique from the AIU, the project engaged the services of the Centre of Research and Expertise in AntiDoping Sciences (REDs) at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland to select a candidate laboratory in the region and then provide training and technical advice to achieve WADA’s approval.

The initial training has been completed and further training will be carried out as required.

The availability of a regional lab will now ease the financial burden of ADAK and Athletics Kenya (AK) as previously, they were forced to transport samples to either Europe or South Africa.

It will also ease the burden for the AIU with 25pc of its over 3,500 samples collected in East Africa or from East African athletes.

“This laboratory is a major development towards the fight against doping in Africa for athletics and indeed for all sports. This is the first time since WADA’s inception that an International Federation has taken the initiative to establish a WADA-approved laboratory in an area of real need,” said David Howman, Chairman of the AIU.

LANCET Group of Labs East Africa operates primarily in the private healthcare environment and offers specialist pathology services to doctors and their patients directly or through clinics and hospitals, industrial sectors, corporates and insurances.

-Doping menace

Kenya has continuously come under the scope of the world with several high profile athletes this year flagged down on allegations of doping.

Four-time World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop was earlier in the year provisionally banned after his urine samples returned a positive test for blood boosting EPO, the same fate suffered by World Under-20 800m champion Kipyegon Bett and Bahrain’s Kenyan born 3,000m steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet.

Marathoner Lucy Kabuu was also provisionally suspended by the AIU after her samples returned a positive test for Morphine.

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