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Athletics in turmoil after mass suspect doping tests revealed

The Sunday Times revealed an extensive amount of dubious doping tests, that has put into light the fact that a third of all Olympic medals won between 2001 – 2012 in endurance events were won by athletes whose blood tests were “highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal”.

The data of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes, was given to The Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WDR by a whistleblower from International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Of the medals won by competitors with suspicious doping tests at Olympics and world championships events, 55 were Gold medal winners.

In response to these revelations World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it was “very alarmed”; while former Olympic gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe – who is running to head the IAAF – has called for a ‘robust response’.

The Sunday Times says none of the suspected athletes have been stripped of their medals, but rather treated with ‘impunity’, as Robin Parisotto, a top anti-doping expert, accurately said.

The Sunday paper went on to lambast the shocking discovery, saying: “the extraordinary extent of cheating by athletes at the world’s most prestigious events”.

The test results themselves are not solid evidence of doping, but it does beg question: is enough being done by sports’ governing bodies to combat such problems?

The question rather answers itself.

Some people have been calling for a redistribution of medals, but as the test results aren’t concrete evidence, has been called a potential ‘farce’ by several key figures.

Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, said at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur: “But it’s not because someone has a suspicious [blood] profile once that he was doped,”

“When people say that there are medals to be redistributed from 2001 to 2012, it’s just a farce.”

Russia, who has been implicated in this scandal – claims that is has been singled out as having a doping problem.

The country’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, did not hold this view, claiming it to be more widespread than country-centric.

Speaking to state news agency Tass, Mutko said: “This scandal doesn’t have to do with Russia, it has to do with the world system of track and field athletics,”

“We’ve played by the general rules all these years. It’s time for someone to stop all this and move forward.”

In a rather non-complicit move, the IAAF said the data had been obtained “without consent” suggested that follow-up action may be taken.

Price paid the price

In other doping news, American heavyweight boxer Tony Thompson, who knocked out Britain’s David Price in two consecutive fights, tested positive for a banned substance after the pair’s second fight in July 2013.

He was given an 18 month ban, but left the Briton’s boxing career in tatters, from which he may never have recovered – as we discovered recently when Price was knocked out in his comeback trail.

The news of Thompson’s ban only came out recently, once he had served his ban duration.

A lackadaisical attitude to doping in sport must end, otherwise it ruins sports for everyone, exactly as it may have done for Price – who is unlikely to be a serious threat in his division should he ever decide to come back to his sport. 

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