LONDON, September 8- The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) needs a period of “hyper-transparency” to win back public trust over doping allegations, a leading expert told British lawmakers on Tuesday.
Australian scientist Dr Michael Ashenden helped compile a report alleging that the sport’s world governing body had ignored hundreds of suspicious blood tests produced by athletes.
Addressing the British parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in London, he said: “Unfortunately I think the IAAF has lost the trust of the public. There needs to be a period of hyper-transparency.”
Ashenden was speaking via video-link to the committee, which is investigating claims that the IAAF did not look into the questionable test results.
British newspaper the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD last month claimed to have gained access to a database that revealed over 800 athletes had produced suspicious blood test results between 2001 and 2012.
The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) subsequently announced an “urgent” investigation, but the IAAF’s new president Sebastian Coe branded the claims a “declaration of war” on athletics.
Coe said the sport was doing its best to weed out cheats, citing out-of-competition testing, accredited laboratories and the introduction of biological passports mapping athletes’ blood levels in 2009.
But Ashenden, who examined the results for the Sunday Times/ARD report, felt his comments were “extreme”.
“It is ironic they accuse the Sunday Times of being sensationalist yet they call it a declaration of war,” he said. “I think they would regret that statement.”
Ashenden said Coe’s comments made it sound like the IAAF was “being advised by a PR crisis management group” and accused the organisation of having a “did-not-want-to-know” attitude about doping.
He also told the committee there was evidence of “some level of systematic doping in Russian athletes” and accused the IAAF of ignoring information about underage Kenyan athletes.
Coe, a former double Olympic 1,500 metres champion, accepts that some countries have doping problems, but says the IAAF has followed up on suspicious test results, resulting in bans for some high-profile athletes.
Ashenden also said the IAAF could learn from cycling’s world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), which has faced doping problems of its own.
“At least the UCI had something in place,” he said. “Contrast that with the IAAF — they could see from 2001 there was a problem.
“There was a horrific problem in 2005, but they did nothing about it until 2009. But they did not introduce anything to put a lid on this problem.”