Revelations relating to suspicious blood-test data are unveiled by the Sunday Times and German documentary

On the eve of the IAAF World Championships in Beijing the sport has been hit by a new drugs crisis as the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WDR revealed alarming blood-test data which were leaked by a whistleblower.

The statistics, which included 12,000 blood tests from 5000 athletes from 2001-2012, suggested a third of global championship medals in endurance events during that period were won by athletes with suspicious test readings. “Yet the authorities have failed to take away any of the medals,” reported the Sunday Times.

Within hours, the story was the lead item on BBC News and falls three weeks before the big event of the year, the IAAF World Championships, starts in Beijing.

The Sunday Times and ARD/WRD used two of the world’s “foremost anti-doping experts”, scientists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden, to review the data.

Parisotto said: “Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values. So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have idly sat by and let this happen.”

Reporting on the story, the BBC said: “The evidence is not proof of doping – but the revelations will raise more serious questions over whether the sport is doing enough to combat cheating.”

Neither Usain Bolt nor Mo Farah nor Jessica Ennis-Hill were among the athletes with suspicious blood test readings. When it comes to nationalities, Russia had the largest number of suspicious readings, with 30% of its athletes in the data registering abnormal blood tests. Ukraine and Turkey were hot on its heels with 28% and 27%. Kenya was 14th with 11%, while Great Britain was 47th with 4%.

Sir Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti Doping Agency, said his organisation was “very disturbed by these new allegations… which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide”.

The IAAF insists it is committed to anti-doping and that it spends a greater percentage of its available resources on tackling drugs than any other governing body in any sport. The global governing body for athletics said on Sunday: “The IAAF is aware of serious allegations made against the integrity and competence of its anti-doping programme.

“The relevant allegations were broadcast on WDR (ARD) in Germany yesterday and have been repeated in an article in the Sunday Times newspaper today. They are largely based on analysis of an IAAF Data Base of private and confidential medical data which has been obtained without consent.

“The IAAF is now preparing a detailed response to both media outlets and will reserve the right to take any follow up action necessary to protect the rights of the IAAF and its athletes.”

» More on this story in the August 6 issue of Athletics Weekly