IAAF hit back at doping cover-up allegations

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has labeled news reports of an alleged doping cover-up as “sensationalist”, “confusing”, “false”, “disappointing” and “misinformed journalism”.

England’s Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD reported last week that a third of all medals in endurance events at the Olympic Games and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who recorded “suspicious” results in doping tests.

The two media houses said that a whistleblower from the IAAF’s offices had sent through official documents containing the results of 2,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes during that period.

The data was analysed by Robin Parisotto, a scientist and expert on the matter, who said the test results were "highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal".

On Tuesday the IAAF hit back at the claims in a lengthy statement released on its website.

“The published allegations were sensationalist and confusing: the results referred to were not positive tests. In fact, ARD and The Sunday Times both admit that their evaluation of the data did not prove doping,” the statement read.

The statement also quoted a professor Giuseppe d'Onofrio and referred to him as one of the “world's leading haematologists”.

“Ethically, I deplore public comments coming from colleagues on blood data that has been obtained and processed outside of the strict regulatory framework established by WADA which is designed to ensure a complete and fair review of Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) profiles,” he said.

“There is no space for shortcuts, simplistic approaches or sensationalism when athletes’ careers and reputations are at stake.”

The Sunday Times report claimed:

  • That athletes with suspicious test results won a total of 146 medals (including 55 golds) at the Olympics and World Championships during the period.
  • That 800 athletes, one of every seven tested in the files, recorded suspicious results in drugs tests.
  • That 80 percent of the Russian medalists and 18 Kenyan medalists during the period recorded suspicious results.

However, the IAAF claims “a large proportion of these blood samples were collected in a period before the implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) and cannot therefore be used as proof of doping”.

“We refute outright any allegation that the IAAF did not appropriately follow up suspicious profiles which had been proactively identified through its world leading blood profiling programme,” the statement continued.