Turkey

Report: Turkey could be thrown out of track worlds amid more doping claims

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A growing doping scandal for Turkey, a nation bidding for the 2020 Olympics, could result in it being thrown out of August’s world track and field championships, according to the Telegraph.

Dozens of Turkish athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during a target-testing operation by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in the last month, according to the report.

The IAAF puts on track and field worlds every two years. Moscow hosts the championships this year from Aug. 10-18.

“We’re talking about a lot of athletes,” a senior athletics insider told the Telegraph. “It could be as many as 30.”

All the athletes failed urine tests, their “A” samples showed. The cases will be revealed publicly if and when the “B” samples confirm the results, according to the report.

A number of Turkish athletes have been named in doping reports in recent months, including its only track and field gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics, 1,500-meter runner Asli Cakir Alptekin.

Alptekin, suspended two years previously for doping, is now facing a lifetime ban after her blood profile showed irregularities under the international biological passport program.

The scale of the doping problem in Turkey is said to be so serious that the IAAF could now take the ultimate step of suspending the Turkish athletics federation and barring its athletes from competing at the World Championships, which begin on Aug 10.

According to the IAAF rulebook, if a member federation is considered to be in breach of its obligations under the sport’s anti-doping regulations, the IAAF’s ruling Council has the authority “to suspend the member until the next meeting of the Congress or for any shorter period” and “to exclude the member’s athletes from any one or more international competition”.

While it is not uncommon for a member federation to be suspended, with Tunisia the most recent example earlier this year due to “government interference”, it is believed to be unprecedented for a national federation to be suspended for doping offences.

To take such a serious step, the IAAF Council would have to be satisfied that the Turkish federation was either complicit in doping or so negligent that it was in breach of its obligations.

No doubt this is not good news for Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. It is one of three finalists for the Sept. 7 vote, along with Madrid and Tokyo.

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More Olympic distance-running medalists banned for doping

Gamze Bulut
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MONACO (AP) — Turkish runner Elvan Abeylegesse has been banned for doping and stands to lose two Olympic silver medals.

The IAAF says Abeylegesse tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol in a retest of a sample she gave at the 2007 World Championships.

She has been banned for two years and had her results wiped out from 2007-09.

Abeylegesse won Olympic silver medals in the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2008 Beijing Games and silver in the 10,000m at the 2007 world championships.

The IAAF also said it had imposed a four-year ban on another Turkish runner, Gamze Bulut, for a violation of its biological passport program. Bulut won 1500m silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

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Maria Sharapova not fully committed to 2020 Olympic run

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The rumors and reports have been out for months, but asked directly, Maria Sharapova wasn’t immediately quite sure how to answer when asked about going for the 2020 Olympics.

“Ooh, I don’t, umm,” Sharapova said, laughing lightly, sitting across from retired U.S. Olympic soccer champion Julia Foudy at a conference in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Tuesday (video here). “It’s a question I’ve been asked, and I’d love to sit here today and say yes, in three-so years that is where I want to be. But it’s hard. It’s hard to look that far, also being a woman that’s also [turning] 30 years [old in three weeks]. I want to have a family. I want to be a mother. Those are definitely long-term goals of mine. But of course to compete in another Olympics, that’s an athlete’s dream. I’d love to be a part of that.”

Sharapova is set to return from her 15-month meldonium ban next month. What stings the most about her suspension?

“Something was taken away from you that you’ve done so passionately since you were a little girl,” she said. “Although I’m at a stage and an age in my career and in my life where you’re closer to the end than you are to the beginning, you always want to end your career or a chapter in your life on your terms and in your voice. And to be in a moment where you feel or you felt like it could have ended on someone else’s voice and someone else’s terms was very difficult to accept. That’s why I fought so hard for the truth to be out. You don’t realize how much you love something and how much something it means to you until you lose it for some time. It gave me a chance also to live.”

Sharapova joked about going to Coachella last year.

“There’s 120,000 people doing drugs that I’m not aware of?” she said, laughing. “And completely being out of my element. I was like, OK? … I’m skipping Coachella this year, because I got my day-job back.”

The fans’ reaction when she gets back on the competition courts?

“I don’t know if there’s much that I can control,” she said.

Earlier this month, her agent reportedly said he thought that Sharapova will play through the 2020 Tokyo Games if healthy.

Sharapova will be 33 years old come the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, two years older than any previous Russian Olympic tennis player. She will likely have to be ranked among the top four Russians in the world in spring 2020 to qualify for the Games outright.

Sharapova’s passion for the Olympics is well documented.

She carried the Russian flag into the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and carried the Olympic flame into Fisht Stadium at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, where she worked for NBC Olympics.

“It was the one thing that my parents allowed me to watch on TV late into the evening was the Olympics,” Sharapova said Tuesday. “I grew up watching figure skating and hockey and a little bit of tennis. … Just capturing the Opening Ceremonies and seeing all the countries and the little hats that they wore, and I, as a little girl, I just imagined that maybe it would be me. But I never, ever thought that I would be carrying the flag.

“I received that [flag] honor in a text message, which is a very Russian way of communicating. I originally thought it was a joke, a big fat joke. Then I showed it to my mother, and she [said], no, they probably wouldn’t joke like that.”

In February 2016, Sharapova entered a Fed Cup tie, despite saying she was injured, in order to receive Olympic eligibility.

One month later, her failed drug test was announced.

Two women’s players, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams, have achieved the singles career Golden Slam — winning all four majors and the Olympics. Sharapova, beaten by Williams 6-0, 6-1 in the London 2012 final, is a Tokyo title away from joining them.

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