AIU and Abbott World Marathon Majors claim the programme will be intelligence led ©Getty Images

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) have announced a “ground-breaking” testing programme which they claim will be a “landmark moment in the drive for clean sport”.

The organisation claim it will be an investigation and intelligence-driven testing programme.

“The AbbottWMM races have shown they are not interested in a ‘tick the box’ approach to anti-doping or playing the numbers game of more and more tests,” said AIU chairman David Howman.

“They are deeply invested in catching cheaters, identifying the risk to their races, understanding the root causes of doping and doing something about it.

“By supporting the enhanced programme, the AbbottWMM has underlined their commitment for clean sport and set an example for the industry.

“This programme is world-leading and will ensure the AbbottWMM races are among the very best regulated sporting events in the world when it comes to anti-doping.”

The AIU claim to have worked closely with AbbottWMM since being founded in 2017 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

During 2018, extensive analysis of the risks to the integrity of athletics and road running was undertaken, according to the AIU.

The programme was developed as a result, with a higher focus being placed on the best elite athletes.

It is claimed intelligence will ensure the right athletes are tested at the right time, involving a testing pool of around 150 athletes.

The AbbottWMM series is comprised of six of the top marathons in the world.

The marathons are in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City.

The events have previously been hit by doping scandals, with three winners of the overall women’s series having been stripped of their titles in recent years.

Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova won the 2010 and 2011 series, but was sanctioned for a doping offence in 2014 which saw her stripped of the victories.

A 2010 victory at the London Marathon was among the results taken away from the Russian runner.

Rita Jeptoo was among the former winners to have been sanctioned for a doping offence ©Getty Images
Rita Jeptoo was among the former winners to have been sanctioned for a doping offence ©Getty Images

Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won four races en route to winning the 2014 series.

She was later sanctioned after a positive test for erythropoietin.

Rio 2016 Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong, also from Kenya, lost her title and two race wins in the 2017 series following a failed test for the same substance.

Another blow came in February, when 2017 Tokyo Marathon winner Sarah Chepchirchir of Kenya was provisionally suspended by the AIU.

She was charged with an alleged athlete biological passport (ABP) breach.

“The AbbottWMM is proud of its zero-tolerance policy on doping and its proactive work investing in and supporting anti-doping programmes,” said Tim Hadzima, executive director of AbbottWMM.

“We are constantly reviewing the program with the AIU and the future clearly requires a strong focus on intelligence and investigative capability.

“We are working with the experts in the AIU to set the pace for road racing.”

The AbbottWMM was formed in 2006 and began working with the former IAAF Medical and Anti-Doping Department in 2013.

The AIU has continued the operation since its inception in 2017.

Additional funding is now being invested by the AbbottWMM to support the “cutting edge programme”, according to the organisation.