Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has unveiled a sports science laboratory in Eldoret as Kenya makes the first step in setting up its anti-doping testing laboratory.
The sports research centre, according to KEMRI, would carry out scientific studies on doping, nutrition, and injuries in athletics as it seeks World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accreditation through the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) before testing samples.
The launch is happening at a time Kenya’s most successful sport – athletics-is facing turbulence following an increasing number of doping cases, with over 50 athletes having been banned in barely two years.
Upon securing accreditation, the Eldoret-based sports medical centre will research significant causes of injuries among athletes and unearth factors driving sportsmen and women to use banned substances, according to the institute.
Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha on Thursday officially opened the new KEMRI laboratory.
KEMRI acting Director General Elijah Songok said the launch of the laboratory in Eldoret marked the beginning of Kenya’s journey towards having an accredited anti-doping centre, which is aimed at reducing turnaround in the testing of samples.
Currently, samples collected from Kenyan athletes are flown to South Africa’s Doping Control Laboratory – Bloemfontein or to labs in European countries such as Germany, Portugal, and Poland among other nations.
Songok said a team of highly skilled scientists has been assembled to handle sports science research.
According to KEMRI, the laboratory in Eldoret will bolster ADAK’s anti-doping education through scientific research.
“We anticipate that the new centre will provide Kenyan athletes with much-needed scientific evidence to support investment in their holistic well-being. In KEMRI, we strive to safeguard athletics as our national treasure,” Songok said.
He added, “KEMRI has a wide global network of research partners which collaborators that it can tap into.”
KEMRI board chairman Abdullahi Ali said he was optimistic that the institute would secure WADA accreditation to start anti-doping tests.
“The centre is designed to prioritize the comprehensive analysis of biological passports, factors associated with anti-doping testing, and sports injuries,” Ali said.
He continued: “We aim to eliminate the need to send samples abroad, thus making the process more efficient and timely.”
Health CS Nakhumicha said her ministry is supporting the Ababu Namwamba-led Sports ministry in enabling the new laboratory to achieve the required standard to become one of the world’s accredited anti-doping labs.
She said Kenya will not relent in its war against doping, noting the war against cheating has been up-scaled.