IAAF hits back at ‘sensationalist’ doping claims

Allegations international athletics body the IAAF turned a blind eye to suspicious blood tests involving hundreds of athletes have been strenuously denied by the organisation.

A lengthy response by the IAAF to the claims by a German broadcaster and The Sunday Times said the allegations were “sensationalist and confusing”.

The media organisations gained access to a database containing more than 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes. It claimed more than 800 athletes – and a third of all medallists in endurance events at recent Olympics and World Championships – had suspicious blood test results which were not followed up by the IAAF.

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

Two anti-doping experts commissioned by the newspaper and broadcaster - scientist Robin Parisotto and exercise physiologist Michael Ashenden - said the blood test results were “highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal”.

In its response, the IAAF said: “What the IAAF cannot accept under any circumstances is an accusation it has breached its primary duty to act in the best interests of the sport of athletics. 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. To do so is simply guess work on their part. The IAAF categorically refutes all allegations made and, specifically, that it failed in its duty to pursue an effective blood testing programme at all times.”

The IAAF response added that the data on which the reports were based was not ‘secret’ saying it published a detailed analysis of this data more than four years ago, and that it did follow up suspicious results on six specific athletes.

“In fact, as the newspaper was told before publication, each test led to intensive follow up, as a result of which the six athletes were subsequently caught cheating and banned.”

“While the ARD and The Sunday Times may wish to pretend they have a ‘scoop’ by reporting on suspected prevalence of doping, their efforts are in fact over four years behind those of the IAAF.”

Irish hurdler, Thomas Barr, ranked 10th in the world, insisted yesterday that to think too much about the latest doping claims only generates “negative energy” for clean athletes.

Speaking at the launch of this weekend’s GloHealth National Track & Field championships in Dublin, Barr commented: “There’s nothing I can do about it, if I let it get into my head it’s negative energy. It’s not going to do me any favours. So all I can do is it compete to my ability and know that I’m clean and I’m tested.”

Barr added: “It’s dispiriting for athletes and anyone who is involved in sport. Even people who aren’t involved in sport, even people who are just onlookers, to see athletics on the front of a newspaper for the wrong reasons, that’s disheartening in itself.

“Ireland has a very stringent anti-doping policy, possibly one of the best in the world in a lot of respects. I would (like to) think that everywhere is going to be like that but I know it’s not.”


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