LONDON • Twenty eight competitors from athletics' 2005 and 2007 World Championships have been banned by the IAAF, the sport's governing body, after historic urine samples showed evidence of doping.
Retrospective analysis of the samples, using previously unavailable technology, showed 32 positive tests among the 28 competitors, "very few" of whom are still active.
The majority of the athletes whose samples showed irregularity are believed to have retired and the IAAF confirmed that none will be competing at the upcoming World Championships in Beijing, which begin on Aug 22.
The embattled organisation is refusing to identify the athletes in question for legal reasons, though it has confirmed that some have already received sanctions.
The tests were the second for samples from the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. The first, in 2012, revealed six adverse findings.
JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL
We will do everything in our power, and use every tool available to protect those clean athletes who form the large majority of our sport.
AN IAAF STATEMENT, on the world governing body's determination to eliminate drug cheats
Five of the six were medal winners, all representing either Belarus or Russia. Two other athletes, an Indian discus thrower and Ukrainian hammer thrower, tested positive during the Championships.
"The IAAF does not shy away from the fact that some athletes continue to cheat and defraud their fellow competitors. But we will do everything in our power, and use every tool available to protect those clean athletes who form the large majority of our sport," an IAAF statement read.
"The IAAF has taken advantage of the 10-year period now offered under IAAF rules and the world anti-doping code as well as new analytical techniques which allow, for example, the long-term detection of steroids."
The analysis of samples from the 2005 Helsinki World Championships dates back to 2012, when the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (LAD), which had stored the samples in anticipation of future testing, produced six adverse results.
Martial Saugy, the LAD director, said: "The latest scientific breakthroughs in anti-doping technology and analysis have been employed in the re-analysis of these samples to allow us to find previously undetectable substances. We are at the cutting edge of the fight against doping."
The timing of the announcement may raise eyebrows, coming less than two weeks after athletics' world governing body was rocked by data leaked to The Sunday Times and ARD, the German broadcaster, showing that a third of medals from endurance events at World Championships and Olympics between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes whose blood values showed alarming fluctuations that should have triggered further investigation.
Those reports were followed last weekend by claims that seven victories in 12 years at the London Marathon are now under suspicion as having been recorded by runners with abnormal blood values.
However, the organisation said that the re-analysis of samples announced on Tuesday had been "going on for some time" and commenced "well before" the allegations made by The Sunday Times and ARD.
The IAAF has attacked those claims, describing them as "sensationalist and confusing", while Sebastian Coe, formerly head of the London Olympics organising committee and now a candidate to succeed Lamine Diack as IAAF president, said the media outlets were conducting a "war on athletics".
The UK Anti-Doping Agency also criticised the data leak earlier this week, warning that athletes could be falsely accused without analysis of multiple factors such as altitude, illness or even pregnancy, which can all produce natural variations in the biological passport.
THE TIMES, LONDON