Athletics

IAAF president Lord Coe gave evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport committee on blood-doping allegations.

Doping researchers raise questions over Lord Coe evidence

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Lord Coe's evidence before the House of Commons select committee investigating blood doping has been described as "misleading and incorrect" by scientific researchers.

The World Anti-Doping Agency in 2011 commissioned a study undertaken by researchers at the University of Tubingen in Germany and other institutions, which suggested 29 to 45 per cent of track and field athletes under examination may have been doping.

Research was carried out at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and the Pan-Arab Games in Doha in the same year and the report's authors want their findings to be published in a scientific paper which is peer-reviewed.

The researchers say the IAAF, the athletics world governing body of which Coe is president, has blocked publication.

The findings were made public by the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee last September, but the report's authors still want their research to appear in a scientific journal. They believe it should be in athletics' interest in the quest for drug-free sport, but say the IAAF is not permitting them to proceed.

Former Olympic 1,500 metres champion Coe appeared before the committee on December 2, sitting alongside IAAF anti-doping manager Thomas Capdevielle in a three-hour hearing, which left the researchers unconvinced.

Lead author Rolf Ulrich wrote in an open letter to Jesse Norman MP, chair of the committee: "We were surprised to hear several misleading and incorrect claims about our research made by Lord Coe and also by Thomas Capdevielle during this meeting.

"In the meeting you asked Lord Coe several times whether IAAF was still blocking the publication of our manuscript. He rotated in circles and never gave a clear answer, which is an answer in itself.

"We are therefore still unsure as to whether we can or cannot submit the paper to a journal. It is in the interests of the science of doping that this paper undergoes an independent review by experts.

"It is also in the interest of the public since the manuscript has now been repeatedly and publicly criticised and thus stigmatised by the IAAF, which affects negatively the scientific reputation of my colleagues.

"This scientific work was performed by my colleagues and myself in the belief that our work would finally result in a scientific publication."

The letter added: "If these organisations (the IAAF and WADA) - as they claim - are really concerned about doping, we don't understand why IAAF blocked the publication of our paper now for over three years."

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