Athletics Integrity Unit and marathon series announce new anti-doping investigation and intelligence-driven testing programme

A “groundbreaking” new anti-doping investigation and intelligence-driven testing programme has been launched by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) in what has been described as a “landmark moment” in the drive for a clean sport.

Since the AIU was founded in 2017, it has worked closely with the organisers of the WMM, which is a series featuring six of the world’s most prestigious marathons: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

While the exact figure has not been disclosed, additional funding is now being invested by the WMM to support the anti-doping initiative, which is said to be based on intelligence and testing.

The WMM, which was formed in 2006, began working with the former IAAF medical and anti-doping department in 2013, and the AIU has continued the operations since its 2017 inception.

“In accordance with the AIU’s recommendation, the programme continues to involve a testing pool of 150 elite runners, with a shift to an emphasis on intelligence-led testing,” reads a WMM press release in part.

“During 2018, the AIU conducted extensive analysis of the risks to the integrity of athletics and road running and consequently devised the programme which puts a higher focus on the best elite athletes, utilising intelligence to ensure that the right athletes are tested at the right time.”

David Howman, chairman of the AIU, said: “The WMM races have shown they are not interested in a ‘tick the box’ approach to anti-doping or playing the numbers game of more and more tests. They are deeply invested in catching cheaters, identifying the risk to their races, understanding the root causes of doping and doing something about it.”

Tim Hadzima, executive director of WMM, added: “The Abbott World Marathon Majors is proud of its zero-tolerance policy on doping and its proactive work investing in and supporting anti-doping programmes.

“We are constantly reviewing the programme with the AIU and the future clearly requires a strong focus on intelligence and investigative capability. We are working with the experts in the AIU to set the pace for road racing.”

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