IAAF fights back against reports of widespread suspected doping

Tue Aug 4, 2015 5:58pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - The world governing body for athletics (IAAF) fought back on Tuesday against media reports of suspected widespread doping in the sport, rejecting accusations it failed to investigate dubious drugs test results properly.

The IAAF said the reports by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and Germany's ARD/WDR broadcaster, which implied cheating was rampant in athletics, were based on "guesswork" and not facts.

"The IAAF takes the allegations published by The Sunday Times and ARD very seriously and has investigated them thoroughly," the IAAF said in a nine-page statement.

"The published allegations were sensationalist and confusing: the results referred to were not positive tests. In fact ARD and The Sunday Times both admit that their evaluation of the data did not prove doping."

ARD/WDR were immediately not immediately available to comment, but The Sunday Times said in a statement: "The Sunday Times based this story of immense public interest on an impeccable source, thoroughly researched, precisely conveyed and responsibly communicated. We did not draw any sweeping conclusions going beyond the evidence we obtained."

The sport of track and field has been plagued by spectacular doping cases over the past three decades, involving some of the biggest stars in the sport, including Ben Johnson and Marion Jones who were both stripped of Olympic golds.

The two news organisations did not claim to have unearthed proof of doping. But they said they had obtained the secret test data from the vaults of the IAAF, supplied by a whistleblower disgusted by the extent of doping.

This had indicated suspected widespread blood doping in athletics between 2001 and 2012, raising new questions about the sport just weeks before the Aug. 22-30 world championships in Beijing.

The IAAF statement included a background summary on the complex process of how blood testing is conducted, and criticised the two Australian scientists who analysed the data and concluded it revealed an "extraordinary extent of cheating".   Continued...

A volunteer with IAAF's local organizing committee displays the credential given to athletes who are selected for drug testing in the anti-doping offices at the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Osaka August 24, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder