IAAF hits back at scientists at heart of doping report

LONDON (AP) The governing body of athletics hit back at two scientists whose findings led to allegations this week of widespread doping in the sport, saying Saturday that their assertions are ''seriously incorrect.''

In a scathing statement, the IAAF said the two Australian anti-doping scientists, Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto, were wrong to claim that the governing body didn't act on suspicious blood profiles from doping tests and ''had no knowledge whatsoever of the actions taken by the IAAF.''

''We condemn the fact that two experienced scientists were naive enough to place themselves in a situation where their analysis of incomplete data is being used against athletes in the public domain,'' the IAAF said.

The retort comes after reports by German broadcaster ARD and The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain that blood doping was rampant in athletics, citing test results that were leaked by a whistle blower and then analyzed by Ashenden and Parisotto.

The IAAF said it is ''astonishing that two experts .... have agreed to analyze a database they knew could only have been obtained without consent of the IAAF or the athletes themselves.''

The media reports examined the results of 12,000 blood tests involving 5,000 athletes from 2001 to 2012, and concluded that 800 were suspicious. The reports said that 146 medals - including 55 golds - in disciplines ranging from the 800 meters to the marathon at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests.

The IAAF statement did not dispute those numbers - only the allegations that it had not followed up suspicious tests properly. It said Ashenden and Parisotto ''conveniently ignore the fact that more than 60 athletes have been sanctioned on the basis of abnormal blood values collected after 2009, and these athletes accrued 140 notable international medals ... before they were exposed by the IAAF as cheats.''

The IAAF also defended itself on Tuesday, but Saturday's statement was in reply to Parisotto and Ashenden saying on Wednesday that they stand by their findings. The scientists claimed that they followed the same procedure as IAAF experts when reviewing biological passport profiles.

''The IAAF acknowledges that these two scientists have a great degree of expertise in the analysis of blood profiles,'' the governing body said. ''It is for these reasons that we are so disappointed.''

In a separate statement released by the IAAF on Saturday, the former chairman of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, Arne Ljungqvist, jumped to the defense of the athletics federation.

''The IAAF did more than others, before the others, but is now criticized by people, who have no insight into the work of IAAF, for not having done enough,'' said Ljungqvist, who also chaired the IAAF anti-doping commission until 2004. ''This is highly unfair to the IAAF, an institution which should be regarded in high esteem for its countless efforts and investment, throughout its history, to tackle doping in athletics in the most efficient and intelligent way.''

The doping reports were published less than three weeks ahead of the athletics world championships in Beijing, which the IAAF said is ''causing stress and confusion'' for athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has set up a commission to investigate the claims made by ARD, and the IAAF said it is ''comfortable that an independent, impartial assessment of the data and the follow-up action by the IAAF will now be made by the competent authority.''

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