THE BIG PICTURE: New doping lab to be placed in Kenya

Kenya has been one of the countries significantly impacted by doping issues, but a new development may help to convince its athletes that if they cheat, they will be caught.

The World Anti-Doping Agency announced that in cooperation with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF), the Athletics Integrity Unit and the Lancet Group East Africa, a new anti-doping lab for blood testing (only) has been created in Nairobi (KEN).

It’s the first accredited doping laboratory in Africa and will begin operations in September. It’s been sorely needed as 25% of the 3,500+ blood samples collected by the AIU were from East African athletes.

AIU chair David Howman noted that “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. It shows that the AIU is not accepting of the status quo, but is taking responsibility for the integrity of athletics and getting things done with a proactive and innovative approach.”

In the meantime, another Kenyan athlete has been suspended for doping.

It’s 2017 World Championships 800 m bronze medalist Kipyegon Bett, who was cited on 15 August for failing to appear for a doping test, and then on 23 August for the presence of the blood-booster EPO in an earlier test.

He has been provisionally suspended by the AIU, and Bett, 20, could be suspended for four years.

He’s the fourth Kenyan to be cited for doping in 2018, all distance runners, including 2008 Olympic 1,500 champ Asbel Kiprop, 2006 Commonwealth Games 10,000 m gold medalist Lucy Wangui Kabuu and 2017 Athens Marathon winner Samuel Kalalei.