Sunday 17 December 2017

Olympic hero says 'disturbing' doping claims echo worst fears

Minister Michael Ring (left) and John Treacy want answers
Minister Michael Ring (left) and John Treacy want answers

The chief executive of the Irish Sports Council has said his fears about doping in international athletics appear to have been confirmed with revelations that several top sports people had suspicious test results.

Whistleblower-released data has shown that one third of medals - including 55 gold medals in endurance events in the Olympics and World Championships - were won by athletes who had suspicious blood test results. However, no medals were taken away from any of them.

A documentary by German broadcaster ARD/WDR and The Sunday Times reported the findings of the data, which was kept at the headquarters of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Monaco.

John Treacy, chief executive of the Irish Sports Council - the body which oversees anti-doping measures in Ireland - said he found the revelations to be "very disturbing".

"I've personally been sceptical watching some of the performances in recent years. This, in my mind, would confirm what we would have suspected," he told the Herald.

Speaking from Boston, Mr Treacy said it was "a serious issue" if officials in the higher echelons of the IAAF were allowing "drug cheats" to continue taking part in competitions.

"The bottom line here is if the IAAF have been sitting on this information and not acting upon it, then it brings into question all the work that has been carried out by all the sporting organisations that try to make sure sport is clean in every country, like ourselves," he said.

"I've watched the documentary. I found it very disturbing.


"If the data is correct it's an appalling situation. This requires real leadership from the IAAF to grasp this nettle and take control of this.

"I think the disturbing piece around all this is that this is in the higher echelons of the IAAF.

"If decisions were made not to pursue cases, that is fundamental to the essence of sport itself in that clean athletes were playing by the rules and drug cheats were getting away with it," Treacy added.

The biggest percentage of athletes with abnormal blood results were Russian at 30pc. Ireland had one of the lowest figures at 3pc.

Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley said his organisation called on the IAAF "to clarify the situation as soon as possible".

Minister for Sport Michael Ring said organisations must come together to "weed out" cheats.

He said the reports "are shocking beyond belief".

"Cheating in sport is unacceptable at all times," he said. "It attains glory under false pretences and means that spectators cannot trust the performances they so much enjoy."

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