July 11 - Turkish officials are scrambling to contain a fallout from an apparent doping crisis that has broken at an uncomfortable time for the Istanbul 2020 Olympic and Paralympic bid.
Mehmet Terzi (pictured top), President of the Turkish Athletics Federation, has acknowledged that there "regretfully has been an enormous number of tests with positive results recently".
However, Terzi argued that a bid's prospects were enhanced when "a federation fights against doping".
His opinion was echoed by Uğur Erdener, President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOCT), who said that the "increase in the number of doping cases...shows that Turkey is fighting doping and, in my opinion, will affect the Olympic bid positively not negatively".
Erdener told Turkey's Anadolu news agency that authorities were "pressing ahead with our efforts to combat doping with tests conducted during and outside of competitions".
Last month, TRT, a Turkish television station, reported that eight weightlifters had failed doping tests, in a development that took the gloss off efforts to use the recent Mediterranean Games in Mersin to showcase Turkey's major event-hosting capability.
In March, it emerged that blood "abnormalities" were discovered in samples from Aslı Çakır Alptekin, Turkey's Olympic 1500 metres champion, just ahead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission's arrival to begin its Istanbul inspection.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) subsequently confirmed that both Çakır Alptekin and Nevin Yanıt, the European 100m hurdles champion, had been charged with anti-doping rule violations.
This latest twist in a bidding race that has become increasingly eventful, unpredictable and open in recent weeks comes as an Istanbul 2020 delegation has joined rivals Tokyo and Madrid in Abidjan for the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA).
Istanbul marked the occasion by revealing that two of the Ivory Coast's biggest sports stars – footballers Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboué, who both play for Istanbul club Galatasaray – were backing the Turkish city's bid.
According to Drogba, Istanbul would be "an ideal host for the 2020 Olympics – it just has that magic that athletes love".
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
May 2013: Olympic 1500m champion faces being stripped of gold medal after IAAF launch investigation
April 2013: Turkey leaves Olympic gold medallist out of Mediterranean Games over doping suspicions
March 2013: Turkish Olympic 1500m champion facing life ban after positive test