SYDNEY: Three weeks before the world championships, athletics is in crisis following new accusations of widespread doping.
The World Anti-Doping Agency responded to the “wild allegations” made by two European media outlets of suspicious drug tests in athletics by asking an independent body to investigate.
WADA President Craig Reedie said on 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.
Athletics Australia has supported the move by the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate new allegations of systemic illegal drug use in track and field.
“The contents of the articles are alarming,” AA said in a statement on Monday.
“Athletics Australia is currently working to ascertain further information about the alleged leaked IAAF test reports that have been obtained to form the basis of the articles.
“The accusations made must be properly investigated. We welcome the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to probe the allegations made.”
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.
Anti-doping scientist Robin Parisotto, who reviewed the data from the period covering 2001 to 2012 with blood doping expert Michael Ashenden, was critical of the federation, saying many athletes appeared to “have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have idly sat by and let this happen”. The 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.
Sebastian Coe, the former head of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games who will bid to become the next IAAF president later this month, said the federation was taking the accusations very seriously and “will issue a robust and detailed response to them and continue to work closely, as it has always done, with WADA.” IAAF vice president Sergei Bubka, who is also running to replace Lamine Diack, echoed the sentiment.
“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,” said Bubka, who also sits on the IOC executive board.
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 August 22-30.
Australians Parisotto and Ashenden reported that 800 athletes, competing in disciplines ranging from the 800 metres to the marathon, registered blood values that were considered suspicious under WADA standards.
The report found 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. The Sunday Times also said 10 medals at the 2012 London Olympics were won by athletes with suspicious results, and that in some finals every athlete in the medal positions had recorded a dubious blood test.
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.