By Duncan Mackay

Mehmet Terzi head and shouldersAugust 2 - Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) President Mehmet Terzi has stepped down in the wake of a series of damaging doping scandals that have hit the sport and led to criticism from the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Lamine Diack. 

Terzi (pictured top) announced that he was quitting the post after nine years with a statement released on the TAF website.

It follow the news earlier this week that nine more Turkish athletes had been suspended after testing positive for a variety of banned substances and came only two days after Diack had told insidethegames that the country needed to "clean their house" if it was not to affect Istanbul's bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. 

"Thanks to the Board members for the support they have showed to me, but I thought it would be right that I step down," Terzi said in a letter.

"I am leaving the post I have been holding for nine years."

Terzi, who represented Turkey in the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympics and was a winner of the gold medal in the marathon at the 1983 Mediterranean Games in Casablanca, had been leading the TAF since December 2004.

During his nine-year spell, Turkish athletics have enjoyed unprecedented highs, as well as devastating lows.

"[In the last nine years] Our athletes have claimed important achievements, won medals, championships," Terzi said.

At Beijing in 2008, Elvan Abeylegesse won silver medals in the women's 5,000 and 10,000 metres, the first time Turkey had a podium finish in running events in the Olympics.

Last year in London, Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Gamze Bulut enjoyed a one-two finish in women's 1500m final to mark a historic moment in Turkish sport.

Çakır Alptekin's gold medal was Turkey's first-ever gold medal in track and field.

Aslı Çakır Alptekin wins Olympic London 1500m 2012Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Gamze Bulut won the Olympic gold and silver medals in the 1500m at London 2012 but a cloud has now been cast over achievements

She now faces being stripped of the title, though, after being provisionally suspended from competitions due to abnormalities found in her biological passport.

Since the start of the year, at least 19 Turkish athletes tested positive for banned substances.

"As the Executive Board, we knew that this growth in athletics would bring some problems," Terzi said.

"One of our concerns was the rising competition, high bonuses and similar motivations leading athletes to use banned performance enhancers.

"Unfortunately, it is a fact that so many anti-doping crimes were committed outside my and technical staff's control.

"I want you to know that I am proud of the point Turkish athletics will reach.

"I hope and wish that the President and his staff that will carry the flag after me will take Turkish athletics one step forward."

Uğur Erdener, head of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey, promised that the change of personnel at the top would lead to the sport being cleaned up.

"As the Turkish NOC President I will ensure that the new leadership of the Turkish Athletics Federation abides by the rigorous standards set out in Turkey's comprehensive anti-doping legislation, other national laws and international anti-doping practices," said Erdener, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency's ruling Executive Board. 

"Doping is a global issue; but as the recent cases in Turkey have shown, we are working aggressively and successfully to ensure that doping is eradicated completely from Turkish sport.

"There may be more positive tests to come, but it is a price we must pay to see clean young Turkish athletes winning medals on the international stage."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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