Sunday 27 May 2018

Athletics Ireland ‘deeply concerned’ following Sunday Times doping revelations

Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley
Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley has called on the IAAF to clarify its position following reports in The Sunday Times over widespread doping in the sport.

The newspaper, and German broadcaster ARD/WDR, obtained leaked data relating to 12,000 blood tests conducted on more than 5,000 athletes. Experts enlisted by the Sunday Times claimed the data showed that more than a third of medals - including 55 golds - awarded at Olympic Games and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes with suspicious tests.

It was further alleged that none of those medals had been taken away by the authorities.

"Athletics Ireland are deeply concerned about the allegations of suspected widespread doping in elite athletics over many years made in a documentary broadcast on the German ARD/WRD network and published by the Sunday Times this weekend but welcome it as an opportunity for athletics to continue its battle against doping," a statement read.

Read more: Doping crisis in athletics following the 'biggest leak of blood-test data in sporting history'

Foley called on the IAAF, who say they are considering taking action following the allegations, to make their position clear.

"Athletics Ireland believes in a zero tolerance policy for doping and we are fully committed alongside the Irish Sports Council (ISC) to enforce the the rules. Athletics Ireland shares the concerns expressed by the President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and we call on the IAAF, as the world governing body for the sport, to clarify the situation as soon as possible," he said.

"Our record for tackling doping stands for itself down through the years. Ireland are at the forefront of testing athletes and we stand confidently over the drug testing programme administered by the ISC which sees athletics as the most tested sport in Ireland.

Read more: 'Alarmed' IAAF considering action following doping allegations in explosive Sunday Times report

"We have a fantastic sport which is growing annually in Ireland and we want to ensure that all the stakeholders in our sport are committed to a clean environment for our athletes."

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Michael Ring TD, said sports organisations across the world must come together to 'weed out' cheats in sport.

“Reports today in respect of blood-doping data and cheating by athletes who are involved in some of the world’s top sporting events, such as the Olympic Games and World Championship, are shocking beyond belief," Minister Ring said this afternoon.

"Such revelations will rock the sporting world to its core as clean athletes absorb the information and sporting organisations assess the gravity of the situation and decide on the best course of action to take to deal with the matter.

“Cheating in sport is unacceptable at all times.

"It sends the worst possible message to our young people, it attains glory under false pretences and means that spectators cannot trust the performances they so much enjoy. The leaking of this data has done a great service to the world of sport, lifting the lid on what is a dishonest and under-handed practice. For our part, Ireland takes such matters very seriously.

"The Sport Ireland Bill 2014 provides for information-sharing with the relevant bodies for the purpose of combatting doping in sport and we will continue to do what is needed to stay on top of this matter.

"I am calling on the IAAF to give these revelations their utmost attention and to take the necessary steps, and provide the resources needed, to ensure that cheats in sport are weeded out once and for all.”

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