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IAAF accused of 'blocking' athletics doping study

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
IAAF accused of 'blocking' athletics doping study

The world athletics governing body has reportedly suppressed a report that found up to one-third of top athletes admitted to violating anti-doping rules. It follows allegations of mass doping earlier this month.

According to the Sunday Times newspaper, the report's authors said the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had blocked the publication of their findings.

The study by the University of Tübingen in Germany revealed that hundreds of elite athletes had confessed to using banned performance-enhancing techniques during a series of confidential interviews carried out at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea.

"The IAAF's delaying publication for so long without good reason is a serious encroachment on the freedom of publication," the university said in a statement cited by the "Times."

The study was funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Although the IAAF was not involved in the research, it was given the power to veto publication in exchange for providing access to the athletes at Daegu.

The researchers' interviews concluded that between 29 and 34 percent of the 1,800 competitors at the championships had violated anti-doping rules over the previous 12 months.

"These findings demonstrate that doping is remarkably widespread among elite athletes, and remains largely unchecked despite current biological testing program," the report concluded.

A month after conducting the study, the researchers were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, but they've now spoken out against the IAAF for preventing the publication.

"The IAAF is blocking it. I think they are stakeholders with WADA and they just blocked the whole thing," lead author Rolf Ulrich told the "Times."

The IAAF told the newspaper they were still in negotiations with the study's authors and WADA about its publication.

Some of the key figures from the University of Tübingen's report were leaked in the United States in 2013 but the IAAF continued to prevent full publication.

Earlier this month, similar allegations of mass doping in athletics were made after an investigation by "The Sunday Times" and German broadcaster ARD revealed that one-third of athletes who had won medals in track-and-field events at the Olympics and world championships had recorded suspicious blood tests.

The two media outlets said they had gained access to confidential IAAF files containing the results of 12,000 doping tests taken from 5,000 athletes over an 11-year period.

The IAAF strongly rejected the allegations, describing them as "sensationalist and confusing."