News 25 March 2015

IAAF: Letter asked Seppelt not to reveal athlete medical information

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has clarified that a letter sent to Hajo Seppelt in connection to his presentations at Tackling Doping in Sport 2015 and WADA’s Anti-Doping Organisation Symposium asked him not to reveal confidential medical information about athletes. Below is the IAAF’s response – in full – to our 19 March article, ‘IAAF attempts to silence “Geheimsache Doping” journalist’, which took the form of a ‘letter to the editor’.

‘In your 19 March 2015 article headed “IAAF attempts to silence ‘Geheimsache doping’ journalist”, you alleged that the IAAF had asked investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt not to speak at a recent Doping in Sport conference, and had threatened him with legal action if he presented evidence behind his documentary about alleged doping in Russia. This is entirely untrue, and very unfair to the IAAF.’

‘The IAAF, in its letter, thanked Mr Seppelt for his contribution to stamping out doping in sport, to which it is also fully committed. We did not ask Mr Seppelt not to speak at the conference, nor did we threaten him in anyway in relation to his important documentary about Russian doping.’ 

‘Our letter did raise a separate matter, relating to a highly confidential document which Mr Seppelt has claimed to be in possession of. We asked Mr Seppelt not to reveal confidential medical information about individual athletes derived from that document, and are pleased that he adhered to this. You might take the view that this ‘story’ is a bit of a storm in a teacup.’

At the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Congress in Monaco during December 2014, Seppelt allegedly showed journalists a list of athletes who gave suspicious blood samples between 2006 and 2008. This list was shown in the third part of Seppelt’s ‘Geheimsache doping’ documentary, but with the names obscured. Under IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, it is not possible to sanction an athlete based on a single suspicious blood sample. The IAAF has asked Seppelt to hand over the list to WADA, so that it can be independently reviewed.

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