Anti-doping efforts take a step in the right direction through granting the Athletes Integrity Unit greater powers

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© Copyright – 2018 – Athletics Illustrated

In the face of increased widespread doping in the sport of athletics, the new Athletes Integrity Unity (AIU) has been granted more power in their ability to recommend and implement change in anti-doping practices. It is a step in the right direction.

One new anti-doping effort includes the identifying of worst offenders by categorisation. Countries likely to dope are now labelled with Category A, B, C, and D.

After an extensive consultation process between International Association of Athletics Federations members, the IAAF Athlete’s Commission as well as AIU, the IAAF named Kenya and Ethiopia as the two most likely countries to be the highest risk for doping. They are listed as number one and two in Category A. Also in Category A are Belarus and Ukraine. The latter two are scheduled to host global championships.

The AIU is already recommending a list of changes that need to take place to clean up the sport.

One of the recommendations is to have athletes from these four, Category A countries, to undergo at least three out-of-competition doping tests in the year leading up to global championships.

Category A and B federations will be required to ensure athlete drug-testing plans are submitted to the IAAF before each World Championships or Olympic Games.

The new rules will come into effect in 2019.

Previously, the AIU’s investigative powers applied only to individuals; however, they will now be able to monitor member federations.

Additionally, the AIU will be able to recommend to the IAAF Council that a country that is continually in breach of anti-doping rules to be sanctioned.

The difference here is that the sanctions up to now have been targeting athletes, whereas going forward, the sanctioning will target the country they come from.

The AIU will also have the powers to monitor member nations in regards to compliance of rules on an ongoing basis.

In 2014, ARDTV of Germany sent a reporter to Kenya to act as a sports agent. The purpose was to see how difficult it would be to acquire performance-enhancing drugs. With a hidden video camera, the reporter found it very easy, at the street level, to acquire EPO and other PEDs.

Historically, neither Kenya nor Ethiopia have had out of competition drug testing in place, due to logistics and expenses. The athletes have had free reign in regards to doping.

In 2016, it is alleged that Somalian athletics coach, Jama Aden, was arrested for being in possession of performance-enhancing drugs. His hotel room in Sabadell, Spain was apparently raided and police found paraphernalia for the purpose of injecting or supplying athletes. Apparently, he was under a month-long, 24-hour surveillance and the athletes were tested on site.

Aden is a well-known coach of East African athletes including some of the very best middle-distance and long distance runners in the world such as the three Dibaba sisters, who have set world records and won global championships medals. And Aden has had some undetermined association with multi-gold medal winner Mo Farah.

Approximately 60 Kenyan athletes have tested positive for PEDs with the most notorious happening since the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Other countries that should be on the A-list are Turkey and Jamaica, like Ethiopia and Kenya, neither have had out of competition testing in place and have a long history of doping infractions.

Around the 2012 London Olympics, 34 Turkish athletes were sanctioned in one go for Stanazolol, the drug that Ben Johnson was caught taking that led to his 1988 Seol Olympic gold medal performance.

Jamaica has had many athletes tested positive for stimulants as well as other PEDs.

The sprints may have the highest percentage of doping infractions. Of the top-nine male all-time performances in the 100-metres, all athletes have either been caught or associated with coaches and doping except Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. List of top-91.

In 2016, Athletics Illustrated wrote that if the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency want to be taken seriously, they need to clamp down harshly on dopers and enablers.

The AIU being granted new powers is a step in the right direction.