Drug Testing Stepped Up In Turkey

The governing body of Track and field has stepped up its drug-testing program in Turkey after many positive drug tests emerged. The International Association of Athletics Federations said it “intensified” its testing in the country after cases that may damage the bid of Istanbul for the 2020 Olympics.

The IAAF remarked the surge in testing measures was due to abnormal blood-profile results that have already resulted in high profile doping cases against some of the top athletes of the country. In a statement, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies the IAAF is aware of media speculation surrounding the recent anti-doping control tests, in and out of competition, of a number of Turkish athletes and the IAAF with the national anti-doping agency intensified the testing program in Turkey following concerns highlighted by abnormal biological passport values.

This statement was issued after Britain’s Daily Telegraph published a report on its website that a large number of athletes from the country tested positive before the Mediterranean Games in the Turkish city of Mersin. The newspaper revealed that the count of positive drug tests may run into dozens and its report disclosed failed tests on their “A” samples and were awaiting the results of the backup “B” samples. Under rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations, a doping case is announced only after a “B” sample confirms the initial positive finding. The results “remain on-going in accordance with IAAF rules,” Davies said and added the world governing body cannot make any further comment until the proceedings are completed.

Turkey’s national Olympic committee, following the report, said it is taking this matter very seriously and urgently reviewing all alleged and any confirmed doping cases involving Turkish athletes. It was further maintained by the Turkish federation that the country has a “zero-tolerance policy” on doping and added any athletes found guilty of using banned substances will be punished to the full extent of Turkey’s comprehensive anti-doping legislation, other laws, and in accordance with international anti-doping practices.

In the past few months, Turkey has been hit with anti-government demonstrations in the country, the police crackdown on protesters, and many doping cases that have dealt a serious blow to the image of the country that is competing against Madrid and Tokyo for hosting the Olympics in 2020. The IOC will select the host city for the Olympics on September 7.

A few weeks back, eight Turkish track and field athletes, including 2004 Olympic hammer silver medalist Esref Apak, and eight weightlifters from Turkey tested positive for doping. In May this year, two-time European 100-meter hurdles champion Nevin Yanit and Olympic 1,500-meter champion Asli Cakir Alptekin were charged with doping violations. This was after Yanit had “multiple positive findings” and Alptekin had abnormal blood values in her biological profile, according to the IAAF. The Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) recently gave suspensions of two years to 31 athletes for drug violations. The list of those suspended included hammer thrower Esref Apak, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist. On its website, the federation said the files of Asli Cakir Alptekin, Nevin Yanit, and Pinar Saka were not assessed because the process of investigation following their defense statements is continuing.

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