Athletics Kenya on Monday welcomed the establishment in Nairobi of a World Anti-Doping Agency-approved blood testing laboratory for East Africa declaring it a big step in their anti-doping fight.
The laboratory, due to open next month, will test all doping cases in international track and field in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania and Uganda.
"This is the best news we have received this year, and we in Athletics Kenya are very excited about it because it will help us to fight this menace of doping effectively," said president Jackson Tuwei at a news conference.
Until now blood samples from East African athletes had to be flown to South Africa or Europe for testing at an approved lab within 36 hours, a tight time frame that led to the regular bending of anti-doping rules.
"This time around things will be faster, easier and cheaper, and those who want to engage in doping will suffer the consequences. We are currently working very closely with the Athletics Integrity Unit and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, and those who want to cheat should start counting their days," Tuwei warned.
Doping among Kenyan athletes has escalated since the first cases were reported in 2010, and in the past one month alone five runners have been provisionally suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
A total of 114 Kenyan athletes have so far been banned for drug-related offences, with 54 of them currently suspended.