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Athletics hit by fresh wave of doping allegations

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said it is “very alarmed” after fresh allegations concerning widespread doping in athletics emerged yesterday (Sunday).

The latest revelations follow a television documentary that was released by German public-service broadcaster ARD on Saturday. The documentary, entitled ‘Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics’, contained new allegations regarding widespread doping in international athletics.

The documentary alleges that ARD and UK newspaper The Sunday Times obtained a leaked database, belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.

The Sunday Times and ARD used two of who they claim to be the world's “foremost anti-doping experts”, scientists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden, to review the data. According to the experts, the database reveals that a third of medals, including 55 golds, in endurance events at the Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. It is claimed none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.

More than 800 athletes – one in seven of those named in the files – are said to have recorded blood tests described by one of the experts as “highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal”. In some finals, every athlete in the three medal positions is said to have recorded a suspicious blood test, while Russia has been described as “the blood testing epicentre of the world” with more than 80 per cent of the country’s medals won by suspicious athletes, while Kenya had 18 medals won by suspicious athletes.

Parisotto said: “Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values. So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have idly sat by and let this happen.”

Ashenden added that the files demonstrate that athletics is now in the same “diabolical position” as cycling during the Lance Armstrong era. He said it was “a shameful betrayal of (the IAAF's) primary duty to police their sport and to protect clean athletes”.

Commenting on the latest news, WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said: “WADA is very disturbed by these new allegations that have been raised by ARD; which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide. Given the nature of these allegations, which are an extension to those that were raised by ARD’s December 2014 documentary, they will immediately be handed over to WADA’s Independent Commission for further investigation.

“These allegations require swift and close scrutiny to determine whether there have in fact been breaches under the World Anti-Doping Code and, if so, what actions are required to be taken by WADA and/or other bodies.”

Russia is currently being investigated by the IAAF Ethics Commission and WADA over claims its officials ran a sophisticated doping program. Allegations put forward in December’s ARD documentary said that doping is organised in Russian sports, and that almost all athletes used banned substances.

ARD’s December documentary led to the formation of an Independent Commission, chaired by WADA’s founding president, Dick Pound. The Independent Commission is scheduled to deliver its report to Reedie by year-end unless he deems it appropriate to extend the mandate.

Sunday’s fresh allegations come just weeks before Beijing is due to host the 2015 IAAF World Championships, where the organisation is also due to choose between Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka to succeed Lamine Diack as its president.

The IAAF said in a statement on Sunday: “(The allegations) are largely based on analysis of an IAAF Data Base of private and confidential medical data which has been obtained without consent. The IAAF is now preparing a detailed response to both media outlets and will reserve the right to take any follow up action necessary to protect the rights of the IAAF and its athletes.”