Mon, Aug 03, 2015 - Page 20 News List

WADA alarmed by doping allegations as test data leaked

Reuters, KUALA LUMPUR

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said yesterday that it was alarmed by the size and extent of “wild” doping allegations after International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) test data leaked to news organizations showed hundreds of suspect samples from athletes, including Olympic and world championship medalists.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD/WDR said they had been given access to the results of 12,359 blood tests given by more than 5,000 athletes over 11 years in a case that could plunge athletics into a new doping crisis.

“These are wild allegations, wide allegations, and we will check them out and have that done with the commission as quickly as possible,” WADA president Craig Reedie told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

An independent commission is already investigating previous allegations of mass doping.

“I am very surprised by the numbers from the leak from the IAAF. I am sure they will want to look at it closely to determine the source,” Reedie said. “It was the spread of the allegations that came from previous programs [that surprised me]. If you look at allegations on blood issues... they are even wider. So that’s a concern, but I stress athletes are innocent until proven guilty.”

When analyzed by scientists, the tests showed more than 800 athletes had given blood samples that were “highly suggestive” of doping or “abnormal,” the BBC reported, adding that it had also seen the documents.

Although abnormal blood tests are not in themselves proof of doping, the release of the data will be an embarrassment to the IAAF less than a month before the world championships in Beijing.

The IAAF introduced biological passports for athletics as part of its drug testing regime in 2009, which help in the detection of abnormal fluctuations in red blood cell counts.

Athletes, most notoriously in cycling, have used blood transfusions and the stimulating agent Erythropoietin (EPO) to increase their red blood cell count, which can help improve performance in endurance events.

The BBC report said a third of medals in endurance events at the Olympics and the world championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who had recorded “suspicious tests.”

Cheating through the use of banned substances has long been a scourge of athletics, from the systematic doping in the former East Germany through sprinter Ben Johnson’s disqualification from the 1988 Olympics to the BALCO scandal in the US.

Sebastian Coe, a candidate for the IAAF presidency later this month, has said he would set up a new anti-doping body specifically for athletics.

The Briton is running against fellow former Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka of Ukraine in the election, which is due to take place on Aug. 19 in Beijing.

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