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.