Wednesday, 7 August 2013
Just days before the start of the World Championships in Moscow, athletics was left reeling from yet another doping scandal when the Turkish athletics federation revealed that it had handed two-year drug bans to 31 of its athletes.

The shocking announcement, which represents one of the biggest doping exposés in one country since the fall of the Iron Curtain laid bare the state-sponsored doping programmes of the Seventies and Eighties. It follows The Daily Telegraph’s exclusive revelation last month that anti-doping raids in Turkey had resulted in “dozens” of positive tests.

Only last week it was announced that nine other Turkish athletes had been banned for two years after ­testing positive for anabolic steroids.

...The latest revelations in Turkey prove that not only high-profile stars are tempted to cheat but also emerging athletes hoping to break into the big time. Of the 31 banned athletes announced yesterday, 20 were 23 or younger and seven were teenagers. Shockingly, they included a 16-year-old hammer thrower, Ebru Yurddas.
Most of the athletes caught are little known outside Turkey, though they include at least three members of the Turkish team who competed at last summer’s London Olympics, the most prominent of whom is hammer thrower Esref Apak, who won silver at the 2004 Olympics.

The situation could even worsen for Turkey in the near future because two of its most successful athletes await disciplinary proceedings after being provisionally suspended on doping charges in May.

Asli Cakir Alptekin, the Olympic 1500m champion in London, faces being stripped of her year-old gold medal and being banned for life for a second drug offence after abnormalities were detected in her biological passport, while two-time European 100m hurdles champion Nevin Yanit is charged with a doping offence after failing a drug test.
The scandal led to the resignation last week of the long-serving chairman of the Turkish athletics federation, Mehmet Terzi.

Yesterday, the president of the country’s National Olympic Committee, Professor Ugur Erdener, tried to put a positive spin on the latest bans by claiming it proved Turkey’s “zero-tolerance for doping”. In a statement, he said: “The list of 31 Turkish athletes who have been suspended for doping violations, released today by the Turkish Athletics Federation, is a clear signal of how seriously Turkey is taking the issue of doping.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations has the power to suspend a member federation and ban it from sending a team to the World Championships if it fails in its anti-doping responsibilities, though IAAF president Lamine Diack said last week that the rule would not be invoked to help Turkey tackle its problem rather than punish it.

He warned, however, that the doping problem could damage Istanbul’s chances of hosting the 2020 Olympics. Diack, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee that will choose between Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid next month, said: “They cannot bid for the Olympics if they cannot control their athletes. They need to clean their house.”
Source: Telegraph


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