Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has cleared Rio 2016 50km race walk champion Matej Tóth to return to competition after accepting his explanation regarding an irregularity in his athlete biological passport (ABP). The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the IAAF decided not to appeal a 4 October Slovak Athletic Committee (SAZ) decision to clear Tóth to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), accepting that the irregularity was caused by the natural physiological state of his body.
The ABP works by monitoring blood values over time, developing a haematological profile for each athlete. ‘Through changes in biological Markers of doping collated over an Athlete’s career, the ABP can be used to establish ‘Use’ per Code article 2.2 without necessarily relying on the detection of a particular Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method’, reads the ABP Operating Guidelines.
Tóth was provisionally suspended in July, causing him to miss the London 2017 World Championships, after one of 24 samples collected from 2009 until 2016 reported low levels of haemoglobin. As previously reported, Tóth argued that a number of factors combined, resulting in the single low haemoglobin value. It is understood that over 250 pages of evidence with 25 annexes involving seven experts in haematology and metabolomics from six countries was submitted to the SAZ in support of his case.
It appears that the IAAF brought forward an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) against Tóth based on a single blood value. This has echoes of the Claudia Pechstein saga, however the case against Tóth appears to be even more spurious. The decision to bring forward an ADRV against Pechstein was based on three blood values, not one.
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