Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has dismissed claims, made in a German documentary, that it failed to follow up on suspicious blood values in relation to 150 track and field athletes. The IAAF said that before the launch of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) in 2009, it would have only followed up on suspicious blood readings with urine tests for erythropoietin (EPO), and then only where ‘logistically possible’.
On Monday night, German broadcaster WDR showed a list of 150 athletes it claimed showed blood anomalies, compiled between 2006 and 2008. The documentary contained an interview with a ‘long-term member’ of the IAAF Medical Commission, who is understood to have supplied the list. The IAAF said that a member of the IAAF Medical Commission ‘would not know’ whether follow-up tests had been conducted or not.
‘The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) was launched by the IAAF only in 2009, when WADA set out a harmonised regulatory framework allowing the use of reliable and comparable values’, read a statement from the IAAF. ‘That was not the case before 2009 (different sample collections conditions, transportations and analytical equipment…). The blood data collected before 2009 were used for target purposes to “trigger” follow-up urine tests for EPO detection. This was the practice by the few International Federations which were conducting blood tests back then (UCI, FIS). Abnormal results were duly followed-up by the IAAF, whenever possible logistically. One cannot draw any conclusion on whether or not an athlete has doped on the basis of one single blood value. The whole concept of the ABP is to monitor the variations of an athlete’s profile consisting of multiple values.’
The ABP works by monitoring an athlete’s blood over time, recording peaks and drops in values in order to ascertain when doping may have taken place, by establishing patterns consistent with the effect that doping would have on the blood. The IAAF said that it has used pre-2009 blood values as ‘secondary evidence’ in support of an increased sanction, as evidence that an athlete had a history of doping, but that pre-2009 values ‘do not have the same level of reliability and strength as the post-2009 values’.
The IAAF said that a copy of the video and an English transcript would be sent to the IAAF Ethics Commission, which is already investigating this matter. It also said that it was investigating an article in the Guardian which alleged that Papa Massata Diack, son of IAAF President Lamine Diack, had made monetary demands in connection to Doha’s bid to host the IAAF World Championships 2017. The article has since been removed.
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