Rwanda Athletics Federation (RAF) president Fidèle Mubiligi has welcomed as major development the initiative to establish the first World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the East Africa region.
Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent agency of world athletics ruling body IAAF, said on its website that Nairobi will host the first WADA-approved laboratory in East Africa.
The facility is to open next month in Nairobi, Kenya where blood analysis of Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) sample will be performed at the LANCET Group of Labs East Africa.
“The initiative is important for the region, and Rwanda in particular, in terms of reducing costs. Usually bringing doctors to test athletes has always been expensive but traveling to Kenya is much easier and the process will be a lot faster,” Mubiligi explained to Times Sport yesterday.
It is reported that more than 3,500 samples were collected by the AIU in 2017; the samples included more than 25 per cent in East Africa or from East Africa athletes.
Mubiligi further noted that, “Athletes in Rwanda are still clean; we have not reached that level where our athletes become sanctioned like in some other countries, largely because our country has zero-tolerance for the use of illegal substances in any away.”
Once the facility starts operating, blood samples from East Africa will no longer have to be transported to anti-doping laboratories in Europe or South Africa for analysis.
The AIU said this practice was expensive and posed serious logistical constraints with the samples needing to be analysed within required timeframes.
The laboratory is expected to start analysing between 800 and 1,000 blood samples a year beginning next month from regional countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, and Rwanda.
Kenya, a distance running powerhouse together with Ethiopia, have recorded a spate of high profile doping cases in the region. Earlier this year, 2008 Olympics and three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop tested positive for the blood booster EPO.
Rwandan Olympian, a middle and long distance runner, Robert Kajuga is currently serving a four-year ban from Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO), for evading a WADA test.