Lagos – Some stakeholders in international athletics have condemned a recent call for “urgent’’ investigation of allegations of covering doping made against the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) by some international sports media based in Germany and England.
The allegations no doubt were aimed at tarnishing the image of the outgoing IAAF President, Lamine Diack, whose outstanding
performance in office could position him to influence who could emerge as the next president of the body.
Apparently, the recent attack is because an earlier attack over the finances of the body could not stand the test of time.
Even, his son, Papa Massata Diack, who was retained as marketing consultant (Emerging Markets) had also risen to stoutly defend
himself against festering allegations of wrongdoing levelled against him.
The Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) in solidarity with the IAAF on Sunday through Abdou Kalkaba, its President, issued a statement on Sunday criticising those media seeking to create sensation by accusing the IAAF of doping allegation cover up.
The statement said the CAA was completely in agreement with the IAAF in condemning what the confederation referred to as “trial by the media at which they illegally obtained blood samples via the Athletes Biological Passport (ABP) from its database’’.
It said also that they had engaged some two Australian experts who carried out the analysis based on which they aimed to discredit IAAF.
The statement noted that the media in question had written the articles to create sensation and misrepresent facts.
“The fact is that the ABP is not made up of the results of anti-doping tests.
“It is a system for following up athletes’ blood profiles over many months and years and the objective is to identify the normal characteristics of athletes and to make sure they remain in those boundaries.
“If the trend of the individual athlete over months is not maintained, this will then lead to official tests by WADA-accredited
laboratories that have the strictest controls to ensure accuracy and no false results.
“The CAA is disturbed that allegations have been aimed against athletes from African countries like Kenya when the overwhelming
majority of athletes have never tested positive for any banned substance.’’
Arne Ljungqvist, a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical Commission Chairman also condemned the attacks.
The former member of WADA Medical Commission from 1987-2002, who released a statement in solidarity with IAAF, described as
“unfair’’ attacks on IAAF, saying they had done more to stem doping from its sports.
“The IAAF has historically been at the forefront of all important developments in the fight against doping and has always taken its
responsibilities seriously when it comes to catching cheats and protecting the integrity of its sport.
“The IAAF has been involved in all major developments of the fight against doping, including the introduction of the first blood tests
for anti-doping purposes back in the early 1990s.’’
According to Ljungqvist, IAAF pioneered investigations more than 20 years ago when blood sampling for anti-doping purposes was judged to be impossible on a global basis for ethical and religious reasons.
“The study clarified that this was not the case, and it was published in J. Sports Med. 1997.
“IAAF’s contribution to the development of the ABP was absolutely key and it has, since then, undeniably played a leading role in this field together with the UCI.
“The IAAF did more than others but it is now criticised by people, who have no insight into the work of IAAF for not having done enough,’’ it him as saying.
The statement said: “regrettably, I did not hear any criticism against the many sports and anti-doping organisations who have never
implemented a robust blood testing programme as part of their anti-doping programme.
“This is highly unfair to the IAAF, an institution, which should be regarded in high esteem for its countless efforts and investment
throughout its history of tackling doping in athletics in the most efficient and intelligent way’’.
Meanwhile, IAAF says it does not claim to be perfect, but strongly believes that historically it has developed the most robust
anti-doping programme in sport.
“We want to catch the cheats and have a history of punishing high-profile athletes like Marion Jones even where it hurts the
reputation and revenues of the sport, but we must have legally sound evidence of wrong-doing.’’
It adds: “We work within the structure of the WADA Code. We have the support of WADA and co-operate fully with them.
“We always want to do more to protect clean athletes and catch cheats, and are currently doing everything that our resources allow.
“We have pushed successfully for four-year bans’’.
It noted that private information on blood sampling was taken out of context and we would continue to fight for the principle of
confidentiality in this specific area.
“As WADA had said, any judgement on blood sample must be based on the analysis of three appointed experts. We cannot accept `Trial by Media’ based on `rogue samples and’ analysis which is taken out of context.
“The blood passport is simply another tool to identify suspicious values to help build cases, prioritise testing and drive anti-doping
policy. We have been actively using it to do all of these things.
“We are one of the first federations to use the ABP and are using it to fuller effect than any other sport,’’ the IAAF insisted.
It adds: “We have been concerned about potential blood-doping for some time and went so far as to publish an academic paper to that
effect in 2011; and we have built up records of blood data to help us beat the cheats.
“We support the work of WADA to encourage governments to implement code-compliant testing regimes. We have brought our concerns about certain countries to WADA.
“One of the key ways we can beat cheats is through education and intelligence. If anyone has information, be it athletes, official or journalist, they should bring it to the IAAF and WADA.
Top Nigerian athletic writer, Dare Esan, says the ongoing campaign was a direct result of the upcoming election and urged that Aug. the 19 election should not be used to deal incalculable damage to the image of the fledgling federation that has done a lot to uphold its integrity in the eyes of the world. (NAN)