International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe has claimed it would be “delusional” to say that the London 2012 Olympic Games were the "dirtiest" in history.
Coe’s statement follows the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announcing on Friday (May 27) that 23 athletes have tested positive for banned substances following reanalysis of samples from the Games in the British capital.
The athletes concerned have all failed their A samples but none have yet been officially named, with the failures coming from six countries and five sports.
A total of 32 athletes have also failed following reanalysis of samples from Beijing 2008, after the IOC targeted those who are likely to compete at the Rio 2016 Games this year.
Coe, who was the chairman of London 2012, believes that the positive tests need to be interpreted carefully, taking into account the history of the Olympic Games.
“It would be delusional to say the London Games was, in the words of many yesterday, dirtier than Games before,” Coe wrote in a column for the Telegraph.
“It would make no sense and I do not think anyone seriously believes that even as recently as Sydney or Athens, that the technology, the systems and our understanding driven by technology and intelligence testing was on a lesser scale than then or Games 20, 30 or even 40 years ago.
“The big message was for athletes to recognise that just because they may be ahead of the testing technology at a particular moment in their career, it does not mean they can lie easy in their beds until excitable grandchildren pour over Olympic medals in their dotage.
“They will be caught.”
Coe’s comments come ahead of the IAAF making a decision on whether to lift the Russian athletics team’s ban, which was imposed by the governing body after allegations of widespread state-sponsored doping were revealed by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Commission.
If the ban is not lifted - with the decision due to be made in Vienna on June 17 - Russian athletes will miss Rio 2016.
Russian media have reported that 14 of the country’s athletes have been implicated in the Beijing 2008 tests, while yesterday the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) confirmed that eight of their athletes, in three different sports, have failed in the London 2012 retests.
They have vowed not to name any of those implicated until after their B-samples have been tested.
Silver medal winning high jumper Anna Chicherova was among those to be named in Russia as one of those to fail from Beijing, however.
The 33-year-old is a major icon who won gold four years later in London.
More failures could be announced soon as reanalysis work continues.
This month, the IOC has been rocked by damning allegations about Russian interference in the doping laboratory at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's discredited doping facility in Moscow, sensationally detailed an alleged state-run cover up of drugs offences in The New York Times.
The IOC has now promised "swift and decisive action" following this controversy, with WADA asked to initiate a "fully fledged investigation" into the claims.
IOC President Thomas Bach has said that entire National Federations could face bans, depending on the outcome of the probe, but has refused to criticise Russia until the investigation has finished.