• Under the spotlight... Russia accounted for 415 'abnormal' tests. (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Utilising the knowledge of two eminent Australian anti-doping experts, an expose by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD has revealed what appears to be rampant doping in global athletics.
Cycling Central

5 Aug 2015 - 11:11 AM  UPDATED 5 Aug 2015 - 11:20 AM

Taken between 2001 and 2012, more than 12,000 tests from over 5,000 athletes were leaked by a whistleblower. "Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values," Robin Parisotto, one of two Australian scientists including Michael Ashenden asked to examine the data, and inventor of the test to detect EPO for the Olympic Games in Sydney, told the Sunday Times.

Parisotto and Ashenden said based on what they saw, distance running was in the same state as cycling when Lance Armstrong was dominant. "The use of EPO is known to have been rife in cycling in the early 2000s. However the database shows that in some of those years the proportion of abnormal blood tests recorded in athletics was significantly higher than in cycling," the report said.

"In the last comparable year, the number of extreme results in athletics was about three times higher than in cycling."

"While the number of abnormal results in cycling dropped significantly with its introduction of the biological passport in 2008, there was actually an initial increase in the proportion of extreme results among track and field athletes after the IAAF brought in the same program a year later.

"In the last comparable year, the number of extreme results in athletics was about three times higher than in cycling."

They also concluded more than 800 athletes had recorded one or more 'abnormal' values - defined as a result having a less than one-in-one-hundred chance of being natural - accounting for 146 medals including 55 golds. Russia accounted for 415 abnormal tests, followed by Ukraine, Morocco, Spain, Kenya, Turkey and others. "A remarkable 80 percent of Russia's medal winners had recorded suspicious scores at some point in their careers," said the Times.

The allegations "will, once again, shake the foundations of clean athletes worldwide," Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said Sunday, at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Kuala Lumpur.

An independent WADA commission is already investigating previous allegations of doping that implicate Russia, global athletics governing body IAAF, athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and other members of athletes' entourages. The fresh allegations now mean those findings, due in September, are likely to be delayed.

"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," Parisotto said.

"The reports also drew attention to Kenya, and in particular its distance runners."

The IAAF said in a statement that confidential medical data had been "obtained without consent"; while avoiding direct comment, vice-president Sergey Bubka did say: "There will be zero tolerance, this is clear."

The reports also drew attention to Kenya, and in particular its distance runners, with the Times reporting Kenyans accounted for 18 of the medals won by athletes with suspicious results. Athletics Kenya retorted to ARD's documentary (watch here in German), labelling it "an attempt to smear our runners with unwarranted suspicion as they prepare to undertake their duty for their country" at the biennial world athletics championships in Beijing, beginning August 22.

While athletes with suspicious tests were not named, the Sunday Times listed some who were clean, including British distance runner Mo Farah, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill.

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