Aug 04, 2015

    Laughable, IAAF head says of doping claims


    THE head of world athletics launched a vigorous defence of the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF's) anti-doping record yesterday, as global sporting bodies called for a thorough probe of the latest doping allegations to plunge track and field into crisis.

    IAAF president Lamine Diack said in response to reports of suspected widespread blood doping that any suggestion his organisation had been negligent was "laughable".

    "There are allegations made, no evidence. We want to look into them seriously because to say that in athletics between 2001 and 2012 we did not do a serious job with tests is laughable," Diack told Reuters.

    Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and Germany's ARD/WDR broadcaster reported on Sunday they had obtained secret data from the IAAF, supplied by a whistle-blower.

    The reports, only weeks before track and field's showpiece event, claim endurance runners suspected of doping had been winning a third of the medals at Olympic Games and world championships in that period.

    The allegations have not been verified by Reuters. The reports did not say that any athletes had failed doping tests, only that the tests had been abnormal, which can sometimes be a sign of cheating.

    There was no clear evidence to explain the Sunday Times and ARD/WDR reports, but the allegations are the latest setback to tarnish the multi-billion-dollar world of sport after the scandal at soccer's global governing body, Fifa.

    Athletics are a central part of the Olympics, the only sporting event that rivals soccer's World Cup in scale and which collects billions of dollars from sponsors like Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Visa and McDonald's.

    International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told reporters yesterday that he had spoken to World Anti-Doping Agency head Craig Reedie and had full confidence in that body to thoroughly investigate the claims.

    Medals won could be affected if any cases of doping are subsequently unearthed using newer testing techniques that did not exist at the time.

    The reports come weeks before a new IAAF president will be elected, with Britain's Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka of Ukraine bidding to replace the retiring Diack.

    Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, one of the most influential figures in world sport, appeared sceptical about the timing of the allegations ahead of that election.

    The Kuwaiti, who serves as the head of the Olympic Council of Asia and Association of National Olympic Committees, told Reuters: "I'm hearing all those news (but) I don't have the big picture."

    "If there is some mess, I hope it will be solved by the mechanism of the governance and anti-doping. If not, related to election time I will understand it."

    The IAAF, yet to offer a detailed response to the contents of the reports, noted that they were based on confidential information obtained without permission.

    A heavy preponderance of the "abnormal" results were from Russian athletes, according to the media reports. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has said the allegations had "nothing to do with Russia" and that they reflected a power battle before the IAAF leadership vote.

    The IAAF's world athletics championships kick off in Beijing on Aug 22.