The latest doping allegations over athletics, levelled by German TV broadcaster ARD and Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper, will be “urgently” investigated by the Independent Commission already set-up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) - a move the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) claimed it “warmly welcomes".
The allegations stem from the television documentary titled “Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”, released by German broadcaster ARD last Saturday (August 1), and referenced a “leaked database” belonging to the IAAF which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.
ARD claimed this data indicated that more than 800 athletes, including many from Russia and Kenya, had given blood samples that were "highly suggestive" of doping or "abnormal", according to the two scientific experts asked for an analysis.
“WADA is committed to protecting the confidentiality of athletes; and, therefore, has asked its Independent Commission to commence its investigation with urgency,” said WADA President Sir Craig Reedie.
“To suggest or imply doping with respect to any athlete whose data is contained within the database is, at the very least, irresponsible and potentially libellous.
“I ask that any athlete, or anti-doping organisation, concerned that their rights are being eroded or inappropriately challenged refer those concerns to the Commission, which intends to commence its work immediately.”
The IAAF has confirmed it has agreed to send its full database with pre-2009 data to WADA and that it will fully cooperate with WADA on the analysis of its contents.
“A portion of the data within the database pre-dates the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), which was introduced in 2009,” said David Howman, WADA director general, in a comment that the IAAF has said should be “specially noted".
“This data could not possibly be considered doping, legally or otherwise.
“In addition, atypical blood data, which may be within this database from 2009-2012, is not necessarily indicative of doping.
“The strength of the ABP is that it monitors selected biological variables over time, via the blood, which indirectly reveal the effects of doping. WADA’s rules governing the ABP are designed to ensure a complete and fair review of ABP profiles and require the unanimous opinion of three experts.”
ARD’s December 2014 documentary titled "Top secret doping - how Russia makes its winners?" led to the formation of the Independent Commission, chaired by WADA’s founding President, Richard Pound.
According to the WADA release, the role of the Commission is “to investigate the validity of allegations of doping practices; corrupt practices around sample collection and results management; and, other ineffective administration of anti-doping processes that implicate Russia, the IAAF, athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and other members of athletes’ entourages; as well as, the accredited laboratory based in Moscow and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
"The Independent Commission is scheduled to deliver its report to WADA’s President by year-end unless he deems it appropriate to extend the mandate."
The IAAF statement in response to today’s WADA announcement welcomed its “clear and unequivocal statement” concerning the “recent accusations against the veracity of the IAAF’s anti-doping programme.”
The IAAF release continued: “The IAAF, like WADA, is committed to protecting the interests of clean athletes but believes strongly that all anti-doping initiatives need to be handled strictly within the framework of the WADA Code.”
The IAAF said it “greatly appreciates” Sir Craig's confidence in it.
The world governing body’s press release added that it was “aware that certain media representatives have contacted athletes requesting permission for their confidential medical data to be made public.
“It is for this exact reason that the IAAF deplores the way this data was obtained and analysed without consent.”
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