17 November 2019
The sport of track and field has been plagued by spectacular doping cases over the past three decades. Photo: Internet
The sport of track and field has been plagued by spectacular doping cases over the past three decades. Photo: Internet

IAAF says reports on suspected doping ‘sensationalist’

The world governing body for athletics hit back at media reports suggesting widespread doping in the sport. It also rejected accusations it failed to investigate abnormal drugs test results properly.

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) said the reports by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD/WDR, which implied cheating was rampant in athletics, were based on “guesswork” and not facts, Reuters reported.

“The IAAF takes the allegations published by The Sunday Times and ARD very seriously and has investigated them thoroughly,” the IAAF said in a nine-page statement.

“The published allegations were sensationalist and confusing: the results referred to were not positive tests. In fact ARD and The Sunday Times both admit that their evaluation of the data did not prove doping.”

ARD/WDR were immediately not immediately available to comment, but The Sunday Times said in a statement: “The Sunday Times based this story of immense public interest on an impeccable source, thoroughly researched, precisely conveyed and responsibly communicated. We did not draw any sweeping conclusions going beyond the evidence we obtained.”

The sport of track and field has been plagued by spectacular doping cases over the past three decades, involving some of the biggest stars in the sport, including Ben Johnson and Marion Jones who were both stripped of Olympic golds.

The two news organizations did not claim to have unearthed proof of doping. But they said they had obtained the secret test data from the vaults of the IAAF, supplied by a whistleblower disgusted by the extent of doping.

This had indicated suspected widespread blood doping in athletics between 2001 and 2012, raising new questions about the sport just weeks before the Aug. 22-30 world championships in Beijing.

The IAAF statement included a background summary on the complex process of how blood testing is conducted, and criticized the two Australian scientists who analyzed the data and concluded it revealed an “extraordinary extent of cheating”.

“The experts have never worked for the IAAF and are therefore in no position to make any comment regarding what the IAAF has done or not done in the development and implementation of its blood and urine target testing program,” the IAAF said.

“To do so is simply guesswork on their part. The IAAF categorically refutes all allegations made by ARD and The Sunday Times and, specifically, that it failed in its duty to pursue an effective blood testing programme at all times.”

The Sunday Times and ARD said they were given access to the doping results of over 12,000 tests from more than 5,000 athletes taken between 2001 and 2012.

The two scientists concluded that more than 800 athletes had recorded one or more “abnormal” results, defined as a result that had less than one chance in 100 of being natural.

They said the athletes, mostly endurance runners, accounted for 146 medals at the Olympics and world championships, including 55 golds.

Russia accounted for the most, with 415 abnormal tests, followed distantly by Ukraine, Morocco, Spain, Kenya, Turkey and others, according to the reports.

Vladimir Kazarin, the coach of two Russian athletes alleged to have submitted suspicious blood samples, said the accusations were unfounded. “If you have official positive doping tests, show us. If not, goodbye,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

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