Lon­don Marathon con­cerned over dop­ing

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Lon­don Marathon or­ga­niz­ers are “very con­cerned” by claims in a Bri­tish Sun­day news­pa­per that the race was won seven times over a 12-year pe­riod by ath­letes who recorded sus­pi­cious blood scores.

In the latest al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread dop­ing in track and field, The Sun­day Times news­pa­per re­ported that al­most 30 per­cent of win­ners in the 24 men’s and women’s Lon­don races are sus­pected of cheat­ing. It also said that one in four win­ners of the six big­gest city marathons around the world “had given blood tests that sug­gest they may have doped to im­prove their per­for­mance over time.”

The sus­pected ath­letes were not named.

In a state­ment Sun­day, Lon­don Marathon chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Bi­tel said or­ga­niz­ers are “de­ter­mined to make marathon run­ning a safe haven from dop­ing but we can­not do it all on our own.”

He added that the Lon­don Marathon pays for the test­ing of ath­letes but does not ad­min­is­ter the tests. This is done by the UK Anti Dop­ing Agency (UKAD), Bi­tel said.

The state­ment also said or­ga­niz­ers would seek re­pay­ment of prize money from ath­letes who fail dop­ing tests.

Ath­let­ics was thrown into tur­moil last week when Ger­man broad­caster ARD and The Sun­day Times news­pa­per al­leged that blood dop­ing was ram­pant, cit­ing test re­sults from an In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions data­base that were leaked by a whistle­blower.

The World Anti-Dop­ing Agency has since set up a com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tion that IAAF files showed 800 sus­pi­cious re­sults in blood sam­ples from 5,000 ath­letes in the years from 2001-12. The re­sults were an­a­lyzed by an­tidop­ing ex­perts Michael Ashen­den and Robin Parisotto.

Ac­cord­ing to The Sun­day Times, the win­ners of 34 big marathons across the world, who col­lected more than 3 mil­lion (US$4.65 mil­lion) in prize money, reg­is­tered sus­pi­cious re­sults sug­gest­ing po­ten­tial blood dop­ing. The news­pa­per re­ported that Lon­don and Chicago marathon or­ga­niz­ers blamed track and field’s gov­ern­ing body IAAF and their re­spec­tive na­tional anti-dop­ing agen­cies for not let­ting them know that some ath­letes “were com­pet­ing with blood so heav­ily doped that it threat­ened their health.”

“We con­tinue to be at the fore­front of anti-dop­ing mea­sures for marathon run­ners as we are de­ter­mined to make marathon run­ning a safe haven from dop­ing but we can­not do it all on our own and rely heav­ily on the IAAF,” Bi­tel said. “We are there­fore very con­cerned by the al­le­ga­tions made in the Sun­day Times to­day and we will be dis­cussing the im­pli­ca­tions of the al­le­ga­tions with the IAAF.”

The news­pa­per said that eight Bri­tish ath­letes in­clud­ing dou­ble Olympic cham­pion Mo Farah have de­cided to pub­lish their blood data to prove they are clean. Ac­cord­ing to The Sun­day Times, a to­tal of 20 of Farah’s blood test re­sults from June 2005 to May 2012 on the IAAF’s data­base did not show anom­alies.

“I’ve al­ways said that I’m happy to do what it takes to prove I’m a clean ath­lete,” said Farah, whose coach Al­berto Salazar has been tar­geted by dop­ing al­le­ga­tions.

UKAD chief ex­ec­u­tive Ni­cole Sap­stead de­fended her or­ga­ni­za­tion’s bi­o­log­i­cal pass­port sys­tem while in­sist­ing on her duty to pro­tect the ath­letes’ right to pri­vacy.

“UK Anti-Dop­ing ad­vises any ath­lete that it is their choice as to whether to share per­sonal med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, which has been col­lected dur­ing the anti-dop­ing process,” she said. “UKAD will never dis­close or dis­cuss in­di­vid­ual ath­lete data or per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.”

Ear­lier this week, for­mer Rus­sian marathoner Liliya Shobukhova’s dop­ing ban was ex­tended by 14 months to March 2016 by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport. Shobukhova’s two-year sus­pen­sion by the Rus­sian ath­let­ics fed­er­a­tion was to end in Jan­uary, but the IAAF ap­pealed to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport, cit­ing “ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances.”

She was orig­i­nally guilty of ab­nor­mal bi­o­log­i­cal pass­port val­ues. The Sun­day Times claimed that she “recorded ex­treme blood scores for nine years be­fore ac­tion was fi­nally taken against her. Two of her scores had a bil­lion-to-one chance of be­ing nat­u­ral.”

CAS ex­tended her ban, and rat­i­fied the ini­tial agree­ment to dis­qual­ify all of her re­sults from Oct. 9, 2009, in­clud­ing wins in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Chicago marathons, and a 2010 win and 2011 sec­ond place in the Lon­don Marathon. Those re­sults helped her to the ma­jor marathon se­ries ti­tles in 2010 and 2012.

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