Independent probe into doping allegations starts well: WADA

Beijing, Aug 20 (IANS) The Independent Commission (IC) has started its investigation into allegations of widespread doping in athletics made by German and British media, World Anti-Doping Agency chief Craig Reedie has said.

The IC, comprising Richard Pound, Richard McLaren and Gunter Younger, was given the extended mandate for the new set of allegations following their probe into previous ARD documentaries of alleged systematic doping and cover-ups in Russia in December last year, reports Xinhua.

“The IC started the investigation into the second set of allegations which happened about two weeks ago,” said Reedie who visited the accredited Beijing lab ahead of the athletics world championships here on Wednesday.

“It has started well and the the experts from WADA is working with the IAAF. I hope we will be able to finish (the investigation) on a near date,” he added.

Britain’s Sunday Times and Germany’s ARD/WDR broadcaster said at the beginning of the month they had obtained the results of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes from athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF.

ARD and The Sunday Times asked Australian scientists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden to review the data.

They reported that 800 athletes, competing in disciplines ranging from the 800 meters to marathon, registered blood values which are considered suspicious under WADA standards.

As the world championships kicks off Saturday in Beijing’s iconic national stadium “Bird’s Nest”, Reedie hoped the competitors are all clean athletes.

“I hope that the IAAF, who are the major event organizers, with the assistance of CHINADA, who are helping them here, will be able to make sure that for the period of the world championships it is a clean sport,” said Reedie.

“We are protecting clean athletes,” he said.

Pre-competition already started on Monday as athletes staying in three Beijing hotels received “visits” from Chinese doping control officials. All samples will be analyzed in the Beijing lab.

As attention drawn to the IAAF’s anti-doping plan for the world championships, the IAAF refused to reveal the number of planned tests.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the program, the IAAF doesn’t disclose its actual testing program for the event. Suffice to say, it will include testing both pre- and in-competition. There will be a significant amount of testing but the emphasis on the program is on quality rather than quantity,” said an IAAF release on Wednesday when Sebastian Coe was elected new world athletics head in Beijing.

Coe pledged “zero tolerance” to doping after his election.

“There is a zero tolerance to abuse of doping in my sport,” said Coe. “I will maintain that to the very highest level of vigilance.”

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