The Athletics Kenya Conference began with a focus on anti-doping ©Twitter/Athletics Kenya

Kenya could introduce criminal penalties for athletes caught doping it has been claimed, as an Athletics Kenya conference focused on anti-doping got underway.

The four-day conference is reportedly being attended by more than 300 athletes at the Sirikwa Hotel in Eldoret.

Kenyan Sport Minister Amina Mohamed was among the speakers at a press conference held prior to the event.

According to Reuters, Mohamed claimed the Government are working on a stronger anti-doping law which could potential see criminal penalties introduced for athletes, should they be caught doping.

This could involve jail terms, it was claimed.

Kenya introduced criminal laws as part of an anti-doping act back in 2016, which introduced jail terms of up to three years for support staff found guilty in connection with doping.

This included the creation of a national testing authority, Anti-Doping Kenya, while it made doping an offence which could be punished by imprisonment.

Revised legislation was published later that year after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) declared the country non-compliant.

The changes led to them being made complaint again in time for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The four-day conference is being supported by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and Anti-Doping Kenya.

The opening day’s theme of "I choose Integrity" saw a marathon and road runners' anti-doping session held on the opening day prior to the main three-day Athletes' Annual Conference, featuring track and field stars.

Apart from marathon and road runners, it especially featured youths, juniors and athletes likely to make the cut for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Marathon world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei were among those present.

Team building exercises and education sessions organised as part of the road running integrity programme featured as part of the event.

The focus on anti-doping comes with Kenyan athletics having suffered a succession of doping scandals involving its top runners.

A total of 44 Kenyan athletes are currently suspended for doping offences.

Between 2004 and August 2018, 138 Kenyan athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency report published in September 2018.

The report concluded that anabolic steroid nandrolone, corticosteroids and erythropoietin were the substances most used by Kenyan athletes.

The final three days of the annual conference is expected to feature discussions on topics including ethics, investment, taxation and athlete-media relations.