Blood tests highlight suspected doping by athletes

International athletics officials are investigating 17 suspected doping cases highlighted by blood tests, it was revealed today.

The IAAF’s biological passport programme has uncovered 36 positive findings, with 19 athletes already sanctioned and cases proceeding against a further 17 so far un-named athletes.

Thomas Capdevielle, the IAAF’s medical and anti-doping results manager, told a conference in London the blood tests focused on endurance events, but that biological passports were now being used for speed and strength events as well.

Capdevielle said that between 2001 and 2009 there had been 8,000 tests which had been analysed and indicated abnormalities among 14% of athletes – and much higher among some nations’ athletes – which had led the IAAF to set up the biological passport scheme.

The IAAF’s scheme requires blood samples to be analysed in a laboratory within 36 hours of being taken from an athlete, which poses significant logistical problems for the governing body.

Capdevielle said the IAAF were planning to send a satellite doping laboratory to Kenya, where 150 endurance athletes are part of the biological passport programme.

Tennis announced this week it was adopting a similar scheme – prompting Don Catlin, one of the founders of athletic drug testing, to claim the sport should spend the resources on increasing the number of out-of-competition tests.

But Rob Koehler, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s direction of education, supported tennis.

Speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference in Twickenham, he said: “If an organisation is going to be proactive and build up samples for a biological passport programme then we would absolutely support that.”

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