ATHLETICS is at the centre of fresh claims about doping after it was alleged world governing body the IAAF turned a blind eye to suspicious blood tests involving 150 athletes, including a leading Briton.
German TV broadcaster ARD reported that a long-time member of the IAAF’s medical commission, whose identity has not been revealed, had a list of dozens of questionable blood values which were not followed up.
The alleged cases involved blood samples taken between 2006 and 2008 and were “highly suspicious” according to the unnamed medical commission member, but there was no follow-up involving target testing of the athletes involved by the IAAF’s doping department.
It is claimed by ARD that many of the samples came from Russian athletes, but that three British athletes were also involved along with others from Kenya, Germany, Spain and Morocco.
ARD has also alleged there is systematic doping in Russian athletics and implicated the IAAF in covering up the problem. The British trio are included on a list of names which appears to have come from the IAAF and is headed “suspicious”.
The latest claims will add weight to Sebastian Coe’s campaign for the IAAF’s anti-doping system to be completely independent in terms of testing and sanctions. Lord Coe, an IAAF vice-president who is running for the presidency, has made the establishment of an independent doping body a key part of his manifesto.
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Coe, in Monaco for the IOC Session, said: “This is the time to really push for a wholly independent arm to our testing procedures.
“Clearly, there are resource implications. But I know that in the UK in the ’80s, that actually made a massive difference. I think this is the moment.”
Coe added on Twitter: “It’s vital that the IAAF, the ethics committee and WADA complete their work on recent allegations. Only then can the appropriate steps be considered.”
Dick Pound, the Canadian IOC member and former president of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), said the allegations highlighted the need for athletics to improve its anti-doping processes.
Pound said: “Athletics has a problem and it will be interesting to see how they respond – and how quick they respond.
“This is harder evidence than we normally have. I think the IAAF need to do something meaningful because clearly what they are doing is not sufficient.”
The IAAF issued a six-point statement to refute the latest allegations.
It pointed out the IAAF only launched the athlete biological passport in 2009, meaning before that date there was no “harmonised regulatory framework allowing the use of reliable and comparable values”.
It said blood data collected before 2009 was used for target purposes to “trigger” follow-up urine tests for erythropoietin (EPO) detection and abnormal results were followed up “whenever possible logistically”.
The governing body also said it was not possible to conclude whether an athlete has doped “on the basis of one single blood value”.
And it stressed that a member of its medical and anti-doping commission would not know whether follow-up tests would have been conducted or not.
The IAAF said it had used blood values prior to 2009 as “secondary evidence” to support an increased sanction for an athlete who doped, but said they did not have “the same level of reliability and strength as the post-2009 values which were collected under strict and stringent conditions”.
It also said it used the pre-2009 blood data to conduct a prevalence study which was published in 2011 and allowed the IAAF to identify the countries where there was a high risk of doping.
The IAAF said a video and English transcript of the latest documentary would be sent directly to the independent IAAF ethics commission.
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