In Brief

Doping scandal: why have athletes not been named?

Olympic medal winners are among those to return 'suspicious' blood tests, but so far they have remained anonymous

Anti doping London 2012 Olympics drugs test

In the wake of data that suggests a third of medal-winning athletes in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 recorded potentially suspicious blood tests, questions are being asked about who the high-profile names in the latest doping scandal could be.

The database of blood-test results was leaked to the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD and reveals the "extraordinary extent of cheating by athletes at the world's most prestigious events", says the paper.

Although it hinted at the identities of some of those who recorded abnormal results, the Sunday Times said it had not named those at the centre of the claims "because the source who leaked the doping data requested that athletes who had never been banned for cheating should be kept anonymous".

However, the paper does say that Jessica Ennis-Hill "narrowly lost out on gold in the 2011 World Championships to a Russian athlete who had recorded abnormal blood results, according to the files". The event in Daegu was won by Tatyana Chernova, who has since served a two-year doping ban.

The paper also named several athletes who had posted clean results. They included Ennis-Hill, Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, who was recently forced to defend his coach over doping allegations.

It also said:

  • One in seven athletes on the list, around 800, had blood-test results that were "highly suggestive of doping, or at the very least abnormal"
  • Of the 800 athletes with dubious results, 415 were Russian while 77 were Kenyans
  • Between 2001 and 2012, 146 major medals were won by athletes who were "likely" to have doped or had "suspicious" results, including ten medals at the London 2012 Olympics
  • A "top British athlete" gave an abnormal test, one of seven UK athletes to register a "suspicious" sample. The Sunday Times reports that, when confronted, the athlete denied cheating and threatened to sue the newspaper if they were identified.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is now investigating the leak, but the data has also raised questions over the role of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), which had the results at its disposal but has been accused of inaction.

The test results do not prove that any individual athlete was cheating, but, says The Independent, "when added together across all cases, the weight of evidence is nevertheless overwhelming".

"If these results threaten the integrity of the entire sport, there can be little wonder that athletics chiefs were not quick to make them public," it adds.

Lord Coe, who is hoping to become president of the IAAF this month, has called on drug testing to be made independent of the governing body, and his stance was backed up by the man who helped expose serial cycling cheat Lance Armstrong, Travis Tygart of the US Anti-Doping Agency.

"It's impossible to both promote and police your sport," he told The Times, citing the protection afforded to Armstrong and other cyclists by the sport's governing body, the UCI.

"The amount of money flowing into these sports means profiteers will hijack them for their own greed — just ask Fifa," he said. "As long as everybody is making money and the sport is growing globally, very few people are going to speak out."

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