British athlete said to be among 150 athletes to have provided a sample with blood values described as ‘suspicious’

A number of suspicious blood tests were ignored by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), claims a German documentary.

A Press Association report published by the Guardian claimed that a long-time member of the IAAF’s medical commission was reported by German TV broadcaster ARD as having a list of “suspicious blood values” which were not followed up with target testing by the IAAF.

The blood samples are said to have been taken between 2006 and 2008, before the biological passport method of testing was introduced into athletics, and provided by athletes from Russia, Kenya, Germany, Spain and Morocco, as well as at least one from Britain.

The IAAF has since published a response to allegations made in the documentary broadcast on ARD station WDR, which includes a series of statements the world governing body said it wished to “point out”.

“In response to further allegations made last night (8) in the WDR TV programme Inside Sport concerning the integrity of athletics’ anti-doping programme with respect to the haemoglobin values of a number of athletes in the period 2006-2009, the IAAF would like to point out the following:

“1. The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) was launched by the IAAF only in 2009, when WADA set out a harmonised regulatory framework allowing the use of reliable and comparable values. That was not the case before 2009 (different sample collections conditions, transportations and analytical equipment…).

“2. The blood data collected before 2009 were used for target purposes to “trigger” follow-up urine tests for EPO detection. This was the practice by the few International Federations which were conducting blood tests back then (UCI, FIS). Abnormal results were duly followed-up by the IAAF, whenever possible logistically.

“3. One cannot draw any conclusion on whether or not an athlete has doped on the basis of one single blood value. The whole concept of the ABP is to monitor the variations of an athlete’s profile consisting of multiple values.

“4. A member of the IAAF Medical and Anti-Doping Commission would not know whether follow-up tests would have been conducted or not.

“5. When they are available, the IAAF has used the blood values prior to 2009 as “secondary evidence”, in support of an increased sanction in addition to the post-2009 profile to establish the athlete’s long history of doping. However these values do not have the same level of reliability and strength as the post-2009 values which were collected under strict and stringent conditions.

“6. Finally, the IAAF has been using the pre-2009 blood data to conduct a prevalence study which was subsequently published (in 2011). It allowed the IAAF to identify the countries where there was a high-risk of doping and to adjust its doping control programme accordingly.”

The statement added that an English transcript of the WDR documentary is to be sent to the independent IAAF Ethics Commission which is already investigating previous claims made in another German documentary.

This latest news follows claims of systematic doping in Russia, with a documentary also aired by ARD last week claiming that positive tests have been covered up and athletes assisted in the taking of banned substances.

» Find a three-page news focus special on the Russian doping scandal in this week’s edition of Athletics Weekly, out December 11

Image credit: ZaldyImg