18 August 2015

Turkish athlete denies doping

Elvan Abeylegesse has denied doping, after the Turkish athletics federation (TAF) was informed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that re-analysis of a 2007 sample had confirmed an adverse finding. ‘I have not used a [banned] substance and I have never thought about taking one’, read a written statement from Abeylegesse reported by Turkish media. ‘I announce that I will take steps…so that the case will be clarified and I will withdraw from competitions until the case ends. I will also request the IAAF to test my samples from the 2008 Summer Olympics. I am very disappointed and feel sorry.’

The TAF confirmed Abeylegesse’s adverse finding after media speculation due to her withdrawal from the national team. “With sadness that we learned of the announcement by the IAAF about the opening of the samples from to the period 2005-2007 involved the sample that was requested in 2007 from Abeylegesse”, said TAF President Faith Çintimar in a 13 August statement. Abeylegesse (pictured, left) won a silver medal in the 10,000m the 2007 Osaka World Championships and it is understood that Kara Goucher of the US and Great Britain’s Jo Pavey will be reallocated silver and bronze should the IAAF’s case prove successful.

On 11 August, the IAAF confirmed that re-analysis of urine samples taken at the 2005 Helsinki and 2007 Osaka World Championships had confirmed 28 athletes with 32 adverse findings. This second re-analysis took advantage of the extension of the statute of limitations under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, which allowed the IAAF to re-analyse samples from ten years ago – two years longer than the eight years permitted under the 2009 Code. In March 2013, it announced that a first re-analysis of samples from Helsinki had returned six adverse findings.

The IAAF said that disciplinary action had begun against the 28 athletes concerned, who consequently cannot be named. However, it added that a ‘large majority’ of the 28 are retired and some are athletes who have already been sanctioned. It said that none of the athletes concerned will be competing at the Beijing 2015 World Championships, 22-30 August.

“The latest scientific breakthroughs in anti-doping technology and analysis have been employed in the reanalysis of these samples to allow us to find previously undetectable substances”, said Martial Saugy, Associate Professor, PhD, Life Sciences, and Director of the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (LAD) in the IAAF statement. “We are at the cutting edge of the fight against doping. In our 10-year partnership with the IAAF we have been using every scientific advance and legal opportunity at our disposal to catch the cheats. The IAAF and the IOC, working in cooperation with the LAD, clearly showed the way 10 years ago and other anti-doping organisations and sport federations, on WADA’s recommendation, are now considering or have started implementing such a retesting policy.”

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