Athletics Integrity Unit,LANCET establish WADA approved lab in Nairobi


The Athletics Integrity Unit and LANCET Group of Labs have established the first ever WADA approved anti-doping laboratory in East Africa.

This is after a nine-month project initiated and funded by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), with support from the International Athletics Foundation, the LANCET Group of Labs East Africa (operating as Pathologists Lancet Kenya) successfully applied for its Nairobi laboratory to become a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-approved laboratory for Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) blood analysis.

Thus starting in early September this year, the laboratory in Nairobi will perform blood analyses to support the AIU’s ABP programme as well as other anti-doping programmes operating in the area such as that of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK).

With the laboratory now in the region, blood samples collected in East Africa will no longer have to be transported to anti-doping laboratories in Europe or South Africa for analysis. The practice was expensive and posed serious logistical constraints for the samples to be analysed within the required time frames.

The AIU implements one of the most robust and effective ABP programmes worldwide to detect and deter blood doping in athletics, especially in distance running events. Over 3500 blood samples were collected worldwide by the AIU in 2017 in the context of the ABP, including over 25% in East Africa or from East African athletes. The ABP programme has resulted in over 100 international-level athletes being sanctioned for anti-doping rule violations so far.

Brett Clothier, Head of the AIU, stated: “From now on, the analyses of blood samples will be performed locally. This will give us more efficiency, more responsiveness and less predictability in our testing programme in the region and a foothold in neighbouring countries where it was extremely difficult to collect blood samples in the past. This is very timely especially in the context of next year’s IAAF World Championships in Doha.”

“This laboratory is a major development towards the fight against doping in Africa for athletics and indeed for all sports,” said David Howman, Chairman of the AIU. “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.”

“The AIU warmly thanks LANCET Group of Labs East Africa for putting their resources at the service of the fight against doping. We also thank REDs at the University of Lausanne for their significant contribution through providing training and technical advice in support of LANCET through the application process. Finally, we thank the International Athletics Foundation for the funding contribution it made to this important project.”

LANCET Group of Labs East Africa operates primarily in the private healthcare environment and offers specialist pathology services to doctors and their patients directly or through clinics  and hospitals, industrial sectors, corporates and insurances.

Dr. Ahmed Kalebi of the LANCET Group of Labs East Africa said: “LANCET Group of Labs East Africa is proud to contribute to the fight against doping through this partnership. WADA’s approval is a great recognition of the professional standards and skills of our facility in Nairobi. We will endeavour to provide quality service throughout what we hope will become a long-standing involvement in the fight against doping.”

The laboratory is expected to analyse between 800 and 1000 blood samples a year as part of the AIU doping control programme in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Eritrea.