WADA to investigate new athletics doping claims
The World Anti- Doping Agency ( WADA) is alarmed by “wild allegations” made by two European media outlets of widespread suspicious drug tests in track and field, and is asking an independent body to investigate.
WADA President Craig Reedie said Sunday he was surprised by the scale of the allegations, including that one- third of medals in endurance races at the Olympics and world championships over a 10- year period were won by athletes who recorded suspicious doping tests.
German broadcaster ARD and The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain said they obtained access to the results of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes. The files came from the database of the International Association of Athletics Federations and were leaked by a whistleblower, according to the reports.
The International Association of Athletics Federations ( IAAF) and WADA were already investigating accusations made in two previous ARD documentaries of alleged systematic doping and cover- ups in Russia.
Reedie said the material from the new ARD program and The Sunday Times would be turned over immediately to WADA’s independent commission for investigation.
“These are wild allegations, wide allegations, and we’ll have to check them out and we’ll have done that by the commission as quickly as possible,” Reedie said in Kuala Lumpur, where he was attending International Olympic Committee meetings.
Reedie stressed the allegations were unproven and athletes are assumed innocent until found guilty.
“It is wrong just to make any kind of assumption on allegations in the me- dia,” he said.
The ARD program, called “Doping Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics,” was broadcast three weeks before the world championships in Beijing, which run from Aug. 22- 30.
In a separate statement issued by WADA, Reedie said the new allegations “will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide.”
ARD and The Sunday Times asked Australian anti- doping specialists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden to review the blood testing results from the period from 2001 to 2012. They reported that 800 athletes, competing in disciplines ranging from the 800 meters to the marathon, registered blood values that are considered suspicious under WADA standards.
The report found that 146 medals — including 55 golds — in those disciplines at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. None of the athletes have been stripped of those medals, according to the report.
“Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values,” Parisotto said. “So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity.”
No athletes were identified, and the evidence is not proof of doping.
The reports also alleged that more than 80 of Russia’s medals were won by athletes with suspicious tests, while Kenya had 18 medals won by suspicious athletes. ARD said it has evidence of human growth hormone being used by Russian runners.
The IAAF said it was aware of “serious allegations made against the integrity and competence of its anti- doping program.”
“They are largely based on analysis of an IAAF data base of private and confidential medical data which has been obtained without consent,” the federations said in a statement, adding that it reserves the right to take action to “protect the rights of the IAAF and its athletes.”
IAAF vice president Sergei Bubka said the federation would look into the allegations and cooperate with WADA.
“We will collaborate very closely and we will not accept any violation of the rule,” said Bubka, who also sits on the IOC executive board. “Everyone should know — there is no space for cheaters, not in athletics, not in other sport, not in the Olympic Movement. The IAAF position is always zero- tolerance for doping.”
The IOC was also aware of the accusations. “It’s up to the WADA commission to gather evidence,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “We have full confidence in them.”
The president of the European athletics federation, Svein Arne Hansen, said the allegations “are a cause for deep dismay and yet another indication of how much we as a sport still have to do to ensure that athletics is free of doping and seen to be fair and clean.”
President of the World Anti-Doping Agency Craig Reedie leaves after attending the 128th International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday, Aug. 2.