Athletics Ireland calls for more information on doping

Clarification urged on 3% of Irish athletes who may have had abnormal bloods

Doping scandal: None of the athletes have been named. Photograph: Getty Images

Doping scandal: None of the athletes have been named. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Athletics Ireland has called for further clarification on the allegation that Irish athletes may have accounted for 3 per cent of the abnormal blood values contained in a leaked report on potentially widespread doping in track and field.

According to the allegations made after a joint investigation between German broadcaster ARD/WDR and the Sunday Times, some 12,000 blood samples from 5,000 athletes, collected from 2001-2012, contain evidence of blood-doping practices.

Of those samples, about 800 were deemed “highly suggestive” of doping or else “abnormal”. This accounts for up to one-third of the medals won at major championships during that period.

None of the athletes have been named, which means the 3 per cent accounted for by Irish athletes is open to interpretation: two Irish athletes, Cathal Lombard and Martin Fagan, failed doping tests during that period (both for the blood-doping product EPO) although it is unclear whether one or both of them provided any of the samples in question.

According to Athletics Ireland chief executive John Foley, there is an urgent need for clarification. Mr Foley also echoed the sentiments of Craig Reedie, president of World Anti-Doping Agency.

Zero tolerance

“Athletics Ireland believes in a zero tolerance policy for doping and we are fully committed alongside the Irish Sports Council [ISC] to enforce the rules,” said Foley.

“Athletics Ireland shares the concerns expressed by the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency and we call on the IAAF, as the world governing body for the sport, to clarify the situation as soon as possible.

“Our record for tackling doping stands for itself down through the years. Ireland are at the forefront of testing athletes and we stand confidently over the drug testing programme administered by the ISC which sees athletics as the most tested sport in Ireland. ”

According to the allegations, Russian athletes top the list of suspected doping offenders, providing 415 abnormal tests during the period in question – or 30 per cent of the abnormal values.

According to expert interpretation of the leaked data, a third of medals won during that period (146 in all, including 55 gold) could now be considered suspicious of doping, taking in the last three Olympic Games, and six World Athletics Championships from 2001 to 2011. Yet none of the evidence is enough to enforce a ban, retrospectively or otherwise.

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