Nick Davies, deputy general secretary of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has described media stories alleging that 150 athletes, including several Olympic champions, had suspicious blood values between but were not subject to proper target testing as "misleading" and "unethical".
The allegations surfaced following the third instalment of the German broadcaster ARD's investigation on doping in athletics.
Previous programmes had made claims about systemic corruption within Russian athletics which is now the subject of investigation by the IAAF Ethics Commission and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
In a letter to the American website, LetsRun.com, Davies, a highly respected figure in the sport and its official spokesman, acknowledges the first two instalments as being "very useful", in that they uncovered evidence which can be used "to investigate alleged infractions and perhaps end up with concrete sanctions."
But the third episode, which claimed that a number of athletes - including many from Russia as well as others from Kenya, Germany, Spain, Morocco and one well known Briton – had allegedly produced abnormal blood values between 2006 and 2008, was strongly criticised by Davies.
"I was extremely shocked to note in the third episode of the documentary, to see use of selected information by what was named as a 'former member of the IAAF Medical Commission' to imply, completely unfairly, that 150 athletes had suspicious blood values and were NOT subject to proper targeted testing afterwards," Davies writes.
"Not only am I bothered, from an ethical standpoint, that this PARTIAL and misleading information has been stolen from the IAAF Anti-dping department, since it contains highly sensitive and private data of a personal nature, but that the list of names has somehow been 'seen' by other media attending the IOC (International Olympic Committee) session in Monaco, who have followed up with sensationalist articles about said list and what it represents.
"As any half educated fan of athletics who has an interest in the science of anti-doping should know, a single reading in a longitudinal study of blood values in itself is worthless as evidence of doping, but is used as a MARKER.
"Athletes with a 'red flag' reading may well be guilty of doping, but equally (and we can prove it in the majority of names on this list) they may be innocent – which is why this information should always have remained locked up in the safe of the anti-doping department in Monaco.
"In my opinion, and I reserve the right to respond myself to the IAAF Ethics Commission, a number of media have reacted in an unethical manner with the intention to cause unfair reputational damage to the IAAF Anti-doping department and the reputation of athletes who have been carefully followed as the result of a single 'red flag' marker which this list represents, and completely exonerated without even being aware that a problem exists.
"We must never forget the rights of athletes to have their privacy respected, a fact that is reflected in the IAAF anti-doping rules and procedures. Former- associates of the IAAF, hiding in the darkness, should never be allowed the possibility to destroy reputations with information that is taken completely out of context and I believe that the 'showing' of this list was disgraceful, cowardly and will do nothing to combat the scourge of doping in athletics."
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