Sunday Times makes fresh allegations over marathon doping

British newspaper claims leaked files suggest that winners of seven of the last 12 London marathons had “suspicious” blood scores, says other marathons should also be under scrutiny

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (AUGUST 9, 2015) (REUTERS) – British newspaper The Sunday Times has again made allegations of doping at the highest level in athletics, calling into question the results of a number of high profile marathons around the world.

The claims follow last weekend’s revelations, which have caused turmoil within the sport just weeks before the world championships start in Beijing on Aug. 22. They stem from the TV documentary “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”, released by German broadcaster ARD on Aug. 1.

ARD and Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper obtained a leaked database, belonging to athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.

Their investigations resulted in claims that the data showed more than 800 athletes had suspicious results which were not followed up by the IAAF.

The governing body strenuously rejected that they had turned a blind eye to doping, describing the allegations as “sensationalist and confusing”.

This Sunday (August 9) The Sunday Times claimed “the London marathon was won seven times in 12 years by athletes who have recorded suspicious blood scores that indicate they could have doped”.

It again based it’s allegations on the leaked database.

The paper also claimed that the data “reveals the extent of suspected cheating by elite athletes in the six internationally famous city marathons around the world”.

Those marathons include Boston and Chicago in the United States, as well as marathons in New York, Tokyo and Berlin.

The Sunday Times also alleged that Liliya Shobukhova, who won the London marathon in 2011 but was subsequently banned for doping, “recorded extreme blood scores for nine years before action was finally taken against her.”

Earlier this week the International Association of Athletics Federations said the insinuation that it had turned a blind eye to doping was “sensationalist and confusing”.

In its latest statement on Saturday the IAAF said it was “pleased to receive a message of support” from Professor Arne Ljungqvist — former chairman of the IOC Medical Commission and vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The IAAF quoted Ljungqvist, an honorary life vice-president of the athletics governing body, in a statement saying: “The IAAF did more than others, before the others, but is now criticised by people, who have no insight into the work of IAAF, for not having done enough.

“Regrettably, I did not hear any criticism against the many sports and anti-doping organisations who have never implemented a robust blood testing programme as part of their anti-doping programme.

“This is highly unfair to the IAAF, an institution which should be regarded in high esteem for its countless efforts and investment, throughout its history, to tackle doping in athletics in the most efficient and intelligent way.”

Former Swedish high jumper Ljungqvist, who is also an honorary member of the IOC, praised the IAAF’s record in rooting out cheats.

“The IAAF has historically been at the forefront of all important developments in the fight against doping and has always taken its responsibilities seriously when it comes to catching cheats and protecting the integrity of its sport.

“The IAAF has been involved in all major developments of the fight against doping, including the introduction of the first blood tests for anti-doping purposes back in the early 1990s.

“The IAAF did pioneer investigations more than 20 years ago when blood sampling for anti-doping purposes was judged to be impossible on a global basis for ethical and religious reasons.”

While the two Australian blood doping specialists who analysed the data presented to the two media outlets have defended their findings, the IAAF continues to insist that blood data had been used “out of context”.

“As WADA also has stated, any judgement on blood sample must be based on the analysis of three appointed experts. We cannot accept ‘Trial by Media’ based on ‘rogue samples and’ analysis which is taken out of context,” the organisation said.

The allegations have cast a shadow over the election of a new IAAF president, which will take place this August when current incumbent Lamine Diack stands down.

And they have also been keenly felt in Kenya, where many endurance athletes are either from, or train.

One, former marathon world record Wilson Kipsang, told Reuters TV that Athletics Kenya could do more to educate their athletes.

Kipsang, against whom no allegations of wrongdoing have been made, said: “Athletics Kenya they are not doing much when it comes to creating awareness and making sure that the control measures are really done because you find many of the athletes are not fully aware of what this drugs are or how to avoid so I think much needs to be done.”