Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Association of Athletics Federations have promised to act if information contained within the ''biggest leak of blood-test data in sporting history'' proves to be correct.
The Sunday Times along with the German broadcaster ARD/WDR, has had access to a database containing more than 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes and which it claims reveals ''the extraordinary extent of cheating by athletes at the world's most prestigious events''.
The data, which belongs to the IAAF but was released by a whistleblower, has been analysed by two leading anti-doping experts for the Sunday Times - scientist Robin Parisotto and exercise physiologist Michael Ashenden.
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According to them, the leaked data reveals that more than a third of medals - including 55 golds - have been won in endurance events at the Olympics and world championships by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. The newspaper claims none of those medals have been taken away by the authorities.
It is the latest in a long line of doping allegations and scandals to hit the sport but WADA and the IAAF came out fighting on Sunday.
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WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said: ''WADA is very disturbed by these new allegations that have been raised by ARD; which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide.''
He also announced that given the nature of the allegations, they would be handed over immediately to the organisation's Independent Commission for further investigation.
Reedie said: ''These allegations require swift and close scrutiny to determine whether there have in fact been breaches under the World Anti-Doping Code and, if so, what actions are required to be taken by WADA and/or other bodies.
''As always, WADA is committed to doing what's necessary to ensure a level playing field for clean athletes of the world."
IAAF vice-president and presidential candidate Lord Coe has backed the organsation to issue a ''robust and detailed response" - while their first statement was to insist they would conduct any necessary action having appeared angered that the data was leaked in the first instance.
''The IAAF is aware of serious allegations made against the integrity and competence of its anti-doping programme,'' a statement from the organisation released on Sunday read.
''The relevant allegations were broadcast 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.''