Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has denied allegations that it covered up doping and is systemically corrupt in an extraordinary 30-page document issued today, designed to ‘reassure the athletics community that it has not been failing to take effective action in the fight against doping’. In the document, the IAAF denies that it ‘covered up’ doping, but admitted that there were ‘unexplained and suspicious delays’ in the results management process ranging from three to six months in the cases of four athletes. ‘There is no systemic corruption within the IAAF’, it reads.
It emphasised that ‘only a very small number of individuals formerly associated with the IAAF are believed to have been involved in the alleged corruption of these four cases’, and that all four were withdrawn from competition before the end of 2012, and resulted in ‘lengthly bans’ for the athletes concerned. ‘There can be no doubt as to the IAAF’s commitment to the fight against doping in Russian athletics’, reads the document. ‘Since 2011, 76 elite Russian athletes have been sanctioned thanks to the IAAF anti-doping programme, including 33 on the basis of the IAAF’s ABP programme. The IAAF has caught and sanctioned more athletes in Russia than any other international federation.’
The IAAF statement is in response to the findings of the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which on 9 November found that senior IAAF and Russian athletics federation (ARAF) staff may have colluded in accepting bribes to delay doping charges against certain athletes during 2012, enabling those athletes to compete at the London 2012 Olympics. The IAAF Ethics Commission last week found that ‘the senior coach of a major national team and a marketing consultant for the IAAF conspired together (and, it may yet be proven with others too) to conceal for more than three years anti-doping violations by an athlete at what appeared to be the highest pinnacle of her sport’. The Commission did not find that the IAAF had ‘covered up’ doping, but that it had delayed the announcement of Russian doping positives for perceived commercial reasons, due to the 2013 World Championships taking place in Moscow.
The Commission also heard evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which alleged that the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) had been blackmailed by the IAAF since 2011. ‘A system was put in place at the IAAF level under which athletes with an abnormal blood passport profile would be allowed to keep competing at high level in exchange of cash payments made to the IAAF’, reads WADA’s evidence in the Commission’s report. ‘The system was in place not only in Russia, but, potentially, in other countries such as Morocco and Turkey’. WADA has since told The Guardian that this system was also used to extort a Turkish athlete.
On 14 January, WADA’s Independent Commission is to publish the second part of its report into allegations of systemic doping in athletics. Part one of its report, released on 9 November, only investigated the allegations made in the December 2014 documentary produced by Hajo Seppelt, ‘Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its winners’. The second part will explore allegations made in Seppelt’s second documentary, released in August, ‘Top Secret Doping: The shadowy world of athletics’. This analysed a database of 12,000 blood tests performed on 5,000 athletes from 2001-2012, experts concluding that many of the blood values could not be explained naturally.
WADA also indicated that the second part of its report would be even more explosive than the first part. ‘This Report also identifies corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics, evidence of which has been transmitted to Interpol for appropriate investigation’, said the 9 November WADA Independent Commission report. ‘Publication of the information will be delayed until decisions are taken by the competent authorities regarding potential criminal prosecutions’. As WADA is publishing this second part of the report on 14 January, it is understood that decisions on criminal prosecutions have already been made.