The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has challenged what it describes as “a number of seriously incorrect assertions” by the two scientists who worked on the recent ARD television documentary alleging widespread doping malpractice in the sport between 2001 and 2012, and has condemned them for placing athletes under media pressure through their “analysis of incomplete data".
The allegations stem from the television documentary titled “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”, which was 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, who did the investigation in association with British newspaper the Sunday Times, 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.
“We are now aware that media outlets are attempting to pressurise athletes named on that database to reveal their private and confidential medical data, just weeks before the IAAF World Championships, causing stress and confusion,” today’s IAAF release said.
“We condemn the fact that two experienced scientists were naïve enough to place themselves in a situation where their analysis of incomplete data is being used against athletes in the public domain.
The IAAF, meanwhile, has received a message of support from Professor Arne Ljungqvist, one of the pioneers of the anti-doping movement, who says that the recent allegations are "highly unfair" to the organisation.
The IAAF release expresses concern that the scientists involved, Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto, are continuing to defend their statements that the IAAF did nothing to act on “suspicious profiles”.
The release continues: “The IAAF acknowledges that these two scientists have a great degree of expertise in the analysis of blood profiles.
"It is for this reason that we are so disappointed.
“We believe it is astonishing that two experts with such knowledge of the ABP (Athlete Biological Passport), WADA (World Anti-Doping) Code, and the anti-doping framework have agreed to analyse a database they knew could only have been obtained without consent of the IAAF or the athletes themselves.
“Having done so, these same scientists proceeded to state categorically that the IAAF had failed to follow up on the suspicious profiles, without any detailed knowledge of the IAAF testing programme.”
The release adds that the two scientists had “no knowledge whatsoever of the actions taken by the IAAF in following these suspicious profiles,”, adding with reference to the pair:
“They both admit that they had not directly checked or were not aware of which specific athletes had actually been caught and sanctioned by the IAAF, either through an ABP case or positive EPO tests.
"How can you publicly state that no action was taken by the IAAF when you have not even done a rudimentary first check to see if anyone has been sanctioned?
“They also conveniently ignore the fact that more than 60 athletes have been sanctioned on the basis of abnormal blood values collected after 2009, and these athletes accrued 140 notable international medals, three world records, six World Marathon Majors wins, 13 other big city marathon wins before they were exposed by the IAAF as cheats.
“The two scientists were not, and still are not, in a position to know which cases have been sent to the independent panel for review, nor to know which cases are currently under review or under appeal.
“More importantly, they do not have access to the IAAF testing records and are therefore not able to know whether proper testing follow-up was conducted by the IAAF.
“On this basis, how can these experts claim that no action was taken by the IAAF without checking which athletes were sanctioned, and without any possible access to the IAAF’s extensive out-of-competition targeted testing information?”
Ljungqvist chaired the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission from 2003 until 2014, as well as being vice-president of WADA from 2008 until 2013 and an IAAF Council member for 31 years until 2007.
He also chaired the IAAF Medical Committee and Anti-Doping Commission from 1972 until 2004.
“The IAAF’s contribution to the development of the Athlete Biological Passport was absolutely key and it has, since then, undeniably played a leading role in this field, together with the UCI,” said Ljungqvist.
“The IAAF did more than others, before the others, but is now criticised by people, who have no insight into the work of IAAF, for not having done enough.
“Regrettably, I did not hear any criticism against the many sports and anti-doping organisations who have never implemented a robust blood testing programme as part of their anti-doping programme.
”This is highly unfair to the IAAF, an institution which should be regarded in high esteem for its countless efforts and investment, throughout its history, to tackle doping in athletics in the most efficient and intelligent way.”
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