Anti-doping body to probe athletics claims

The World Anti-Doping Agency said it is alarmed by “wild allegations” made by two European media outlets of widespread suspicious drug tests in track and field, and is asking an independent body to investigate.

WADA president Craig Reedie said yesterday that he was surprised by the scale of the allegations, including that one-third of medals in endurance races at the Olympics and world championships over a 10-year period were won by athletes who recorded suspicious doping tests.

German broadcaster ARD and The Sunday Times in Britain said they obtained access to the results of 12,000 blood tests from some 5,000 athletes. The files came from the database of the International Association of Athletics Federations and were leaked by a whistleblower, according to the reports.

The IAAF and WADA were already investigating accusations made in two previous ARD documentaries of alleged systematic doping and cover-ups in Russia.

Reedie said that the material from the new ARD programme and The Sunday Times would be turned over immediately to WADA’s independent commission for investigation.

“These are wild allegations, wide allegations, and we’ll have to check them out and we’ll have done that by the commission as quickly as possible,” he said in Kuala Lumpur, where he was attending International Olympic Committee meetings.

Reedie stressed the allegations were unproven and athletes are assumed innocent until found guilty.

“It is wrong just to make any kind of assumption on allegations in the media,” he said.

The ARD programme, called Doping Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics, was broadcast three weeks before the world championships in Beijing, which run from August 22 to 30.

In a separate statement issued by WADA, Reedie said the new allegations “will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide.”

ARD and The Sunday Times asked Australian anti-doping specialists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden to review the blood testing results from the period from 2001 to 2012.

They reported that 800 athletes, competing in disciplines ranging from the 800m to the marathon, registered blood values that are considered suspicious under WADA standards.

The report found that 146 medals — including 55 golds — in those disciplines at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. None of the athletes have been stripped of those medals, according to the report.

“Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values,” Parisotto said. “So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity.”

No athletes were identified, and the evidence is not proof of doping.

The reports also alleged that more than 80 of Russia’s medals were won by athletes with suspicious tests, while Kenya had 18 medals won by suspicious athletes.

ARD said it has evidence of human growth hormone being used by Russian runners.

The IAAF said it was aware of “serious allegations made against the integrity and competence of its anti-doping programme”.

“They are largely based on analysis of an IAAF data base of private and confidential medical data which has been obtained without consent”, the federations said in a statement, adding that it reserves the right to take action to “protect the rights of the IAAF and its athletes”.

IAAF vice president Sergei Bubka said the federation would look into the allegations and co-operate with WADA.


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