© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

The recent positive drug tests that implicated 31 Turkish athletes – due to the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) out-of-competition testing in that country (all from the sport of athletics) – puts a little tarnish on that country’s sporting image, to say the least.
To paraphrase the World Anti-Doping Association, only a “clean” Athlete should be allowed to benefit from his or her competitive results.
The positive tests found athletes were using primarily two anabolic steroids, stanozolol and turinabol. This is an unfortunate and ill-timed situation as Istanbul continues to romance the International Olympic Committee in the hopes that their bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games turns in their favour on September 7th when the IOC is scheduled to make the announcement of which city will be awarded the games. The competition is tough with Tokyo and Madrid also in the running. In light of the image problem that Turkey now faces, Turkish Athletics Federation chairman Megmet Terzi, stepped down from his position last week. The move appears hackneyed – a faux, and proverbial, taking one for the team.

The stepping down was a potentially ill-conceived tactical demonstration of there being a movement afoot in Turkey to illustrate that the federation’s brass will not put up with the current unholy standard of cheating. In a recent article, Athletics Illustrated suggested that the International Association of Athletics Federation should suspend the Turkish Athletics Federation from participating in the upcoming 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that take place in Moscow, Russia, beginning August 10th. In the article it is suggested (and no way proved) that the doping may be state-organized, so, therefore, they should be suspended.  Terzi said, “Unfortunately, it is a fact that so many anti-doping crimes were committed outside my and technical staff’s control.” Well, that settles it then, doesn’t it? Thirty-one athletes (that were caught) were randomly taking the same drugs in the same sports.

To further illustrate that the TAF want to separate themselves from their dirty athletes, they suspended the perpetrators for two years each (to exhibit that it surely is preposterous to think the doping was state-run). Turkish Olympic Committee president Ugur Erdener, an IOC member, said in a statement, “This work is part of a concerted, and much more aggressive, anti-doping policy in Turkey that has been in place for over six months.” Au contraire, two years is the minimum suspension to be handed down, according to WADA’s Code of Conduct, additionally, WADA’s policy is to step up testing leading up to major games.


“An Adverse Analytical Finding involves the presence of an anabolic steroid; the Athlete promptly admits the anti-doping rule violation as alleged; the Athlete establishes No Significant Fault (Article 10.5.2), and the Athlete provides important Substantial Assistance (Article 10.5.3).

Application of Article 10

The basic sanction would be two years under Article 10.2. (Aggravating circumstances (Article 10.6) would not be considered because the Athlete promptly admitted the violation.”

Erdener simply suspended the athletes for as long as WADA has already determined that they should be suspended for, for taking steroids, as per the above code.

Paula Radcliffe, the world record holder in the marathon and a staunch anti-doping advocate told Athletics Illustrated that the minimum suspension should start at four years, not the current two. This particular case is rather poignant in light of her statement, as some of the athletes who were doping are teenagers. A two-year suspension will simply allow these very young athletes to continue to develop uninhibited, while suspended. In theory, they won’t be fully mature for several more years anyway.

Neither the IAAF nor the IOC will want to have Turkey suspended from the upcoming IAAF World Track and Field Championships; it would be a very bold and unusual move with potential repercussions. The old boys club that makes up the IOC (one of their members, Ugur Erdener, Is the president of the Turkish Olympic Committee), would find it too uncomfortable a move and more importantly will make it appear that there is a quiet conspiracy set in motion to vote in favour of Tokyo or Madrid, perhaps setting a legal precedent. Additionally, the games are too close to make an unprecedented move and most importantly, a further blackening of the eyes of the international athletics scene.

The two-year ban of the 31 athletes is wrist-slapping court-play. So long as the impending non-outcome exists, no one is going to take the sport of athletics seriously, at least not until the IAAF suspends a federation, or the IOC takes Turkey out of the running for the 2020 Olympic Games. To paraphrase WADA, doping is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of the sport. 


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