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Kenya Building First Athlete Drug Testing Center

By McCarton Ackerman 12/06/13

With a growing number of positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs, Kenya looks to curb accusations of pervasive doping among its athletes.

Thirteen Kenyans tested positive in 2012-13
Photo via Shutterstock

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is teaming up with the Kenyan government to build the first drug testing center within the country. Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat confirmed that construction will begin next month and “the center will serve Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the central Africa region. This will reduce the cost and time it takes to get results whenever we take our samples to Germany or South Africa.” The relatively remote location of Kenya has made it extremely costly to get blood samples to accredited labs within the required 36 hours of collection.

The drug testing center is also critical for Kenyan sports because positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs are on the rise within the country. David Okeyo, secretary general of Athletics Kenya, acknowledged that 13 Kenyans were found guilty of doping between January 2012 and January 2013; seven of the banned athletes tested positive for norandrosterone, linked to the steroid nandrolone. After testing positive for a steroid in June 2012, half-marathoner Mathew Kisorio alleged that systematic doping was pervasive in Kenya and even aided by foreign doctors.

A German TV documentary that aired before the 2012 London Olympics also reiterated these accusations, accusing Kenyan training camps of being rampant with doping, both among local athletes and foreign runners who took part in the high-altitude sessions. Okeyo denied that there was a culture of doping among Kenyan runners, but confirmed that a commission had been established to address the rise in doping cases.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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