Associated Press, STEPHEN WILSON, Jul 09, 2013 15:55
LONDON (AP) – Track and field’s world governing body has stepped up its drug-testing program in Turkey amid reports of dozens of positive cases that could damage Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.
The International Association of Athletics Federations said Tuesday it “intensified” its testing in Turkey following abnormal blood-profile results that have already resulted in doping cases against some of the country’s top athletes.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies issued a statement to The Associated Press following a report on the website of Britain’s Daily Telegraph that a large number of Turkish athletes tested positive ahead of last month’s Mediterranean Games in the Turkish city of Mersin.
The Telegraph said the number of positive cases could run into the dozens, possibly as many as 30. The report said the athletes failed tests on their “A” samples and were awaiting the results of the backup “B” samples. Under IAAF rules, a doping case is announced only after a “B” sample confirms the initial positive finding.
“The IAAF is aware of media speculation surrounding the recent anti-doping control tests, in and out of competition, of a number of Turkish athletes,” Davies said. “Following concerns highlighted by abnormal biological passport values, the IAAF with the national anti-doping agency intensified the testing program in Turkey.”
Davies said the results “remain on-going in accordance with IAAF rules.” He said the IAAF won’t make any further comment until the proceedings are completed.
Turkey has been hit by a spate of recent doping cases, dealing a blow to the country’s image as Istanbul competes against Tokyo and Madrid to host the 2020 Olympics. The IOC will select the host city on Sept. 7. Turkey’s bid has also been affected by the anti-government demonstrations in the country and the police crackdown on protesters.
Last month, eight Turkish track and field athletes – including 2004 Olympic hammer silver medalist Esref Apak – and eight Turkish weightlifters were caught for doping.
In May, Olympic 1,500-meter champion Asli Cakir Alptekin and two-time European 100-meter hurdles champion Nevin Yanit were charged with doping violations. The IAAF said Alptekin had abnormal blood values in her biological profile, while Yanit had “multiple positive findings.”
Following Tuesday’s report, Turkey’s national Olympic committee said it is “taking this matter very seriously” and “urgently reviewing all alleged and any confirmed doping cases involving Turkish athletes.”
The committee maintained that Turkey has a “zero-tolerance policy” on doping and said the national anti-doping agency has worked closely with the IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency on recent cases.
“Any athletes found guilty of using banned substances will be punished to the full extent of Turkey’s comprehensive anti-doping legislation, other laws, and in accordance with international anti-doping practices,” the statement said.
The report of new doping cases comes a month before the world athletics championships in Moscow. The Telegraph suggested that the scandal could lead the IAAF to suspend the Turkish federations and bar its athletes from the championships, which start on Aug. 10.