December 13, 2017

Athletics Doping Scandal – All there is to know

London Marathon winner in 2010, Liliya Shobukhova has been banned

Coming off the back of the extensive allegations against the Nike Oregon Project which came out of the BBC Panorama documentary, a new, even greater doping scandal has come out. This time, instead of the allegations being against specific people, a large database of athletes blood levels was leaked by a whistleblower to the German broadcaster ARD/WDR and The Sunday Times.

Doping Reports:

From the reports came 12,000 blood tests from 5000 athletes between 2001 and 2012. Not all of these had suspicious readings and it is definitely worth noting that Usain Bolt and Mo Farah – both including in the blood tests – do not show any inconsistent findings. This data obtained was given to two independent oping experts who analysed it giving findings as reported by BBC Sport:

  • A third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. It is claimed none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.
  • More than 800 athletes – one in seven of those named in the files – have recorded blood tests described by one of the experts as “highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal”.
  • A top UK athlete is among seven Britons with suspicious blood scores.
  • British athletes – including Olympic champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill – have lost out in major events to competitors who were under suspicion.
  • Ten medals at London 2012 were won by athletes who have dubious test results.
    In some finals, every athlete in the three medal positions had recorded a suspicious blood test.
  • Russia emerges as “the blood testing epicentre of the world” with more than 80% of the country’s medals won by suspicious athletes, while Kenya had 18 medals won by suspicious athletes.

This was all documented by the German broadcaster ARD/WDR which also included some scary evidence against doping in the heart of distance running, Kenya. You can watch the full documentary in English here. The documentary shows how there is a doctor who claims to treat many of the top Kenyan athletes and (as secretly filmed), provides and administrates EPO to Kenyan runners. As a results of this, there has been definite change already in the doping community out in Kenya, with Dr. Rosa Associates & Volare Sports banned from managing Kenyan athletes as reported by Capital FM Sports.

Results of the Claims:

As a result of these adverse findings, athletes have come put in support of there being greater levels of transparency within how their blood data is reported and collected. This has been specifically shown by The Sunday Times’ report into the doping scandal and how they have worked with some top athletes to display their blood data, proving they are clean. Among this data includes the likes of Olympians Mo Farah, Andy Baddeley and Lisa Dobriskey; these athletes show non adverse blood levels and are significantly different when compared to the blood readings of now banned athletes such as Russian Liliya Shobukhova.

Blood data from The Sunday Times
Blood data from The Sunday Times

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.16.23

There has been lots of support for more athletes to follow this pattern and release their blood data. This ca,e directly from Tour de France champion Chris Froome who believes that athletics needs to learn from the doping in cycling.

When looking at the bigger picture, what concerns athletes the most is those winning medals whilst doping. So, as a result of the findings, many athletes with high blood values are being investigated, resulting in athletes who finished behind them being upgraded from their position.

This is certainly the case with the likes of Jo Pavey, European 10,000m champion. In the Osaka World Championships in 2007 she finished in 4th place. The Turkish second placed athlete, Elvan Abeylegesse has been confirmed to be under investigation as a result of the findings meaning Pavey would be upgraded to bronze position. Likewise to this, Kara Groucher could also be upgraded to a silver medal after further investigations.

Much of the criticism has not been directed at the athletes themselves but to the governing body the IAAF. Currently, they are going through a reelection process for the role of president, where Seb Coe is the favourite to take the position. As the IAAF have been accused of covering up many of the positive doping samples, there have been many calls – specifically from Michael Ashenden, PhD ENDS to Seb Coe announcing his thoughts and improvements which should be made to the IAAF doping system.

There is certainly a long way still to go in all of these allegations. Many of the leaked blood values are yet to be analysed and released publicly as such and this still may never happen. I do feel like it has cast a shadow over the entirety of the world championships starting next week and the athletics community needs to have something dramatically changed as with cycling to make things go in the right direction.

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