Latest claims of doping are a joke, says outgoing IAAF President

The outgoing president of international athletics has defended the organisation’s record on drug-testing and called the latest dopingallegations “a joke”.

Lamine Diack, who steps down as IAAF president at the end of August, also questioned whether there would be any redistribution of Olympic medals.

It comes after German broadcaster ARD/WDR and the Sunday Times gained access to a database containing more than 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes. They claim more than 800 athletes have had suspicious blood tests and that a third of all medals in endurance events at recent Olympics and world championships went to competitors who had a “dubious” blood count result during their career.

Diack, speaking to the media at the IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, said: “There is a film and a newspaper who are asking questions. We are going to answer them all.

“But it doesn’t mean just because someone has a suspicious profile once that he was doped. When people say that there are medals to be redistributed from 2001 to 2012, it’s just a farce.

“They are playing with the idea of a redistribution of medals. It’s possible, if we prove with the new techniques at our disposal that someone doped. Otherwise, it’s a joke. Just three weeks before the World Championships, there is something behind this.

“No one has been destabilised, we are stronger than that. Everything that has been done in the fight against doping has been made by IAAF.”

Sebastian Coe, who is standing in the election to succeed Diack, has promised to take a hard line on drugs. He said in his presidential manifesto: “The fight against those who continue to lie and cheat is not over — far from it — and it is crucial that we continue to increase resources in this battle for our sport’s integrity and now is the time to dramatically close the gap between a positive test and the relevant sanction.”

Coe also backed the IAAF to issue a ”robust and detailed response” to theclaims.

WADA president Craig Reedie has also expressed concern, saying: “WADA is very disturbed by these new allegations that have been raised by ARD, which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide.”

Reedie announced that the allegations would be handed over to the organisation’s independent commission for further investigation.

Former WADA president Dick Pound said athletics could be facing a “major crisis” if the allegations are proven. “If all this stuff is true it is a major crisis, much of which happened on the watch of the current president — and I’m sure he’s concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile, any British athlete caught up in the scandal faces a life ban from receiving funding if doping is proved.

UK Sport funds 1,300 British Olympic and Paralympic athletes, but chief executive Liz Nicholl warned the body has a zero tolerance approach todoping. “My thoughts on this is that no matter how unpalatable the revelations are, the truth has got to be told so that the integrity of the sport is protected,” she said.

“We have a zero tolerance of doping. Any athlete who has a case to answer is suspended [from the funding programme] and if they are found guilty of a serious doping offence they are banned from receiving the funding for life.”

The latest claims of widescale blood doping in athletics have been described as “incredibly damaging” by a British Olympian.

Roger Black, former 400m silver medallist, said the claims made it very hard for athletes to defend the sport. “It is incredibly damaging, because for those of us who love the sport, those of us who perform at the highest level, it is very frustrating,” he said. “It becomes so much harder to defend the sport.”


Are these the comfiest knickers ever?

Film-makers at Schull Fastnet Film Festival reveal their favourite movies

The Skin Nerd: Is Kylie Skin set to be a kult klassic or miss the mark?

GameTech: Minecraft now set to take over the real world

More From The Irish Examiner