Athletics: 'Leaked' results point to new scandal

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the women's division of the 110th Boston Marathon in an unofficial time of 2:23:38 in Boston, Massachusetts on April 17, 2006.
Rita Jeptoo of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the women's division of the 110th Boston Marathon in an unofficial time of 2:23:38 in Boston, Massachusetts on April 17, 2006.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Athletics faced a fresh doping scandal Saturday when leaked results from 12,000 blood tests taken from 5,000 competitors allegedly demonstrated instances of cheating and "a shameful betrayal" of clean athletes.

German broadcaster ARD as well as Britain's Sunday Times say they passed on their information to leading blood doping experts who concluded that track and field is in "the same diabolical position today that professional cycling was in 20 years ago".

The database, reportedly created by the International Association of Athletics Federations (Iaaf), covers the period from 2001 to 2012, a statement from ARD said.

The findings were broadcast in a documentary screened in Germany on Saturday - "Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics." Australian doping experts Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto came to a series of conclusions: - A total of 800 athletes in disciplines from 800m to the marathon registered values which, according to the definition of the biological passport of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) are regarded as suspicious or even highly suspicious.

In the analysis of the blood levels of the medal-winners at world championships and Olympics between 2001 and 2012, every third medal was won by athletes, for whom one or even both experts had identified suspicious blood values in the database.

For every sixth medal winner at least one, they claimed, had doped in the course of his/her career.

"Often two out of the three medallists had probably engaged in blood doping during their career," Ashenden told the programme.

"In one event the entire podium was comprised of athletes, who in my opinion had most probably doped at some point in their career." Ashenden lashed out at the Iaaf and their anti-doping policy.

"For the Iaaf to have harvested millions of dollars from the broadcasting of athletics competitions...yet only devote a relative pittance of those funds towards anti-doping.

" my opinion (it's) a shameful betrayal of their primary duty to police their sport and to protect the clean athletes," he said.

The values in the tests are not proof of cheating and the Iaaf rejected criticism of its management.

"The Iaaf has always been at the forefront in combating anti-doping, searching and implementing new analytical techniques and methodologies," said a statement released to the Sunday Times and carried by the BBC.

Since the introduction of the biological passport, the Iaaf says it has "pursued more cases than all other anti-doping organisations together".

It added that it spent $2million a year on fighting doping.

The Iaaf added in defence of its biological passport: "Any other approach, in particular, the use of data collected over a longer period for different purposes, with different objectives and with different methods of analysis, is nothing more than speculation." Meanwhile, Russia and Kenya were subjected to new doping allegations in the documentary.

ARD, who last December aired similar accusations of doping and corruption in Russia, returned to the controversy just three weeks out from the world championships in Beijing.

"Despite assurances from the Russian authorities (in favour of a clean sport) doped competitors and their suppliers are always protected," the public broadcaster said in a statement.

The makers of the film claim to have evidence of human growth hormone being used to boost Russian runners.

They also say that a hidden camera recorded 800m athlete Anastasia Bazdireva as praising the benefits of drugs.

"With anabolics, I have stiff muscles. But I can run. It's hard but it's OK. You feel different with anabolics," she is recorded as claiming.

Journalists also returned to Kenya where they claim another hidden camera showed injections of "dangerous" doping products being administered.

The programme claimed that there is "massive corruption" within the Kenyan set-up and "a desire to cover-up the summit of the Kenyan athletics federation".

Kenya was rocked this year when marathon star Rita Jeptoo was banned for two years after being caught doping with the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO.

"Since 2006, I have not been forced to do a single blood test in Kenya," the 34-year-old is quoted as saying by ARD, adding that only urine tests were carried out.