“Zero tolerance” promised in athletics doping scandal

International Olympics Committee responds to allegations by German broadcaster ARD

IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland

The sensational claim that a third of recent medal winners in top-level athletics may have recorded potentially suspicious blood tests has prompted the International Olympics Committee to promise a “zero tolerance” approach for any athletes found guilty.

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The scandal began over the weekend with a television documentary by German broadcaster ARD, which claimed to have obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and containing thousands of blood tests for the period 2001 to 2012. 

ARD quotes two scientists as saying that analysis of these blood test results suggest a third of medals awarded in endurance races at the Olympics and world championships for the period covered were won by athletes who had recorded suspicious blood tests during their careers.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has since stated that the allegations require “swift and close scrutiny” to determine whether or not there have been breaches in the World Anti-Doping Code.

“WADA is very disturbed by these new allegations that have been raised by ARD; which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide,” said Sir Craig Reedie, President of WADA. “Given the nature of these allegations, which are an extension to those that were raised by ARD’s December 2014 documentary, they will immediately be handed over to WADA’s Independent Commission for further investigation.”

However, many commentators have pointed out that a variety of factors must be taken into account when analysing blood tests, including the possibility of altitude training, dehydration, blood transfusions and more.

The IAAF is expected to release a formal response to the allegations imminently – more info as soon as we have it…

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(Main image: Nizar Kerkeni)