U.S. runners hope doping scandal will ultimately help sport's image

Wed Aug 5, 2015 7:11am EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fresh allegations of widespread doping in international athletics will eventually help the sport emerge from its eternal cloud of suspicion and show Americans are performing at the highest level without cheating, top U.S. runners say.

No U.S. athletes have been linked to confidential data released by a whistleblower indicating suspected widespread blood doping in international track and field between 2001 and 2012. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart said he was unaware of any American athlete suspected of doping in the report.

Many of those suspected of doping or taking banned substances to boost performance were involved in endurance events and accounted for 146 medals at top events, including 55 golds, according to Britain's Sunday Times, which released the report along with German broadcaster ARD/WDR.

Leading American track and field athletes say those caught doping should face harsher penalties, including lifetime bans from the sport. Authorities should wipe out any records offenders may have set and redistribute any medals they may have won, athletes told Reuters, even if wrongdoing is uncovered years after the infraction.

"At least from the middle distance and distance side of things, Americans have done very well at getting on the podium at the world championships and the Olympics Games," said Deena Kastor, the U.S. record holder in the marathon.

"If we're doing that while the rest of the world is cheating, then it bodes well for how U.S. distance running is standing on a global level."

Top flight sprinters like Ben Johnson and Marion Jones generally garner the headlines for taking banned substances, along with shot putters and hammer throwers.

But the new report, which comes just ahead of the Aug. 22 opening ceremonies of the biennial World Athletics Championships in Beijing, highlighted many distance runners with allegedly suspicious test results.   Continued...

Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, speaks during Anti-Doping Intelligence and Investigation Seminar in Singapore February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files