Nairobi - The head of Kenya's athletics governing body said on Friday that a crisis over doping among the east African nation's fabled distance runners was "as bad as HIV/Aids".
Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat, who has been fending off allegations of failing to take the issue seriously, promised to put in place stringent domestic anti-doping test procedures.
The crisis in Kenyan sports follows the disgrace of top female marathoner Rita Jeptoo, a two-time Chicago and Boston winner who was caught using the blood-boosting drug EPO.
"This doping issue is just as bad as Aids. This will be a serious elaborate exercise. We will roll out an educative programme such as the one Kenya launched when HIV/Aids was first detected," Kiplagat told reporters.
"We plan to have our own doping control officers to nab the athletes locally," he said, adding that Athletics Kenya would partner the newly-launched Anti-doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) to conduct random in-competition and out-of-competition testing.
Other measures to be put in place include a lifetime ban on any sports agent or coach who has three athletes in their stable who test positive for doping, plus the mandatory introduction of biological passports - which monitor changes in blood make-up - for all elite athletes.
Kenya's sports bosses have been accused of inaction on the doping issue, which has cast a shadow over the record-breaking and medal-winning achievements of its distance runners - who are a major source of national pride.
They have also cast the current crisis as being a result of what they insist are dishonest foreign agents and coaches who are "corrupting" Kenyan runners.
Jeptoo is the biggest name in Kenyan athletics to have been busted for cheating and will appear before a disciplinary panel next week.
She is expected to face a two-year ban and be stripped of her recent titles.
Jeptoo tested positive for EPO, which can massively increase endurance and recovery times during intense training, in an out-of-competition test in Kenya last September. A test of her "B" sample, conducted at the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Lausanne in December, confirmed the presence of the drug.