Doping allegations rock athletics world

Kuala Lumpur, (Reuters): Leaks of confidential doping data threw global athletics into chaos on Sunday after a newspaper and a broadcaster said a third of medals in Olympic and world championship endurance races from 2001-2012 were won by runners with suspicious blood.

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Britain’s Sunday Times and Germany’s ARD/WDR broadcaster said they had obtained the secret data from the vaults of the global athletics governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), supplied by a whistleblower “disgusted” by the extent of doping.

The news organisations said they had shown the data to two experts, who concluded that track and field endurance events were in the same dire state as cycling had been at the peak of a doping scandal that nearly destroyed that sport, when American Lance Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France victories.

“Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values,” the Sunday Times quoted Australian doping expert Robin Parisotto, one of the two scientists that reviewed the data on behalf of the two news organisations, as saying. “So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have sat idly by and let this happen.”

The IAAF did not immediately address the substance of the reports but said it was preparing a response and noted they were based on confidential information obtained without permission.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), a separate body set up in 1999 to coordinate doping investigations across global sport, said it was “very disturbed”.

The allegations “will, once again, shake the foundations of clean athletes worldwide,” WADA president Craig Reedie said at a session meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “These are wild allegations, and we will check them out and have that done with the commission as quickly as possible,” Reedie said.

The International Olympic Committee expressed confidence that the WADA would get to the bottom of the allegations. The allegations concern techniques used to improve the ability of blood to carry oxygen to cells, which can give an advantage to competitors in events where endurance is critical, like long-distance cycling, or, in the case of athletics, running over medium and long distances.

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