The World Athletics Championships kick off at Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium on Friday – as the IAAF continues the fight against doping. Here are the major doping-related storylines heading into the 2019 Worlds.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) was established by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2017 to combat doping in international athletics and took up its duties prior to the World Athletics Championships in London. For the 2019 Worlds in Doha, the AIU has pledged to implement an "unprecedented integrity programme." A statement on the IAAF's website states that for the first time samples taken from competing athletes will be taken abroad for testing, a measure the AIU says will "avoid any potential conflict of interest and associated risks."
"The year 2019 is also the first year of the implementation of the national federations obligations rule (article 15) of the IAAF anti-doping rules, wherein IAAF member federations designated as the highest risk have made sure that athletes selected for the World Championships have gone through the requisite number of out-of-competition tests prior arriving in the Qatari capital," the statement continues.
Kenyans stumble over anti-doping rules
Michael Kibet and Daniel Simiyu, who finished first and second in the 5,000 meters at the Kenyan trials have been barred from competing in Doha for failing to meet the AIU's anti-doping rule requirements (see above). Athletics Kenya's vice president in charge of competitions, Paul Mutwii, confirmed earlier this week that the AIU had declined a request that Kibet and Simiyu be allowed to compete in Doha.
Meanwhile, Jackline Wambui and Linda Kageha have withdrawn from the Kenyan team going to Qatar after failing to undergo mandatory testosterone-level tests. Wambui won the 800-meters at the Kenyan trials while Kageha was set to compete in the mixed-relay team.
On Monday, IAAF President Coe confirmed that the AIU was aware of allegations reported by German public broadcaster ZDF that at least two Kenyan athletes had taken the performance-enhancing substance EPO. Athletics Kenya responded by saying the allegations lacked substance.
Around 60 Kenyan athletes have been sanctioned for anti-doping rule violations in the past five years. Since 2016, with the establishment of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK), the Kenyan authorities have stepped up anti-doping efforts in the country.
Russians to compete as neutrals
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress voted by a majority of 194 to 30 on Monday to uphold Russia's suspension from the sport's world governing body, which has been in place since November 2015 over evidence of doping practices in the country.
"We have a non-negotiable position. We set out criteria and they have to be met in full. There must be a real understanding when a suspended federation comes back into the international fold," said freshly reelected IAAF President Sebastian Coe following a meeting in Doha.
A total of 30 Russians have been approved to compete at the World Athletics Championships after the IAAF granted them "Authorized Neutral Status." They will be allowed to compete in Doha under strict conditions, including that they do not wear their country's colors or national symbols. Among them is two-time world champion high jumper Maria Lasitskene.
Also barred from the World Athletics Championships is Olympic gold medalist Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikisan. The hammer thrower, who won gold in Rio in 2016, was provisionally suspended after a sample from the 2011 Worlds in South Korea tested positive for "a metabolite of oral turinabol.”
No Caster Semenya
South Africa's 800-meters star Caster Semenya is to be given the gold medal for winning the race at the 2011 World Championships – after Russian runner Mariya Savinova was stripped of the title for doping. However, she is not planning to attend a medal reallocation ceremony in Doha to collect her medal. It is to be handed to an Athletics South Africa official instead – to be passed on to Semenya at a later date. Semenya has never doped, but she won't be competing in these Worlds – after she lost her long-running battle against new IAAF regulations requiring her to take medication to lower her naturally-elevated testosterone levels.
Clean Christian Coleman
The American sprinter too has never tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance or even been accused of doping. However the favorite to win the men's 100 meters in Doha recently found himself at the center of controversy over the news that he had missed three drug tests due to "whereabouts" failures in the past 12 months.
If testers are unable to contact an athlete at a designated location three times within a 12-month period, he or she is considered to have committed an anti-doping violation, which carries a ban of up to two years. However, in Coleman's case, the US Anti-Doping Agency dropped the charge after finding that one of the tests in question came outside of the timeframe. Coleman subsequently posted a video on YouTube to explain the situation and assert his innocence.
"A lot of people have a misunderstanding of how the system works," he said. "I'm tested 30-40 times a year. It's a crazy amount of times. I'm a human being. I forget sometimes."
pfd/mds (AP, Reuters, dpa)