Combatting doping in sport Contents

1Knowledge and prevalence of doping in world athletics

Investigations by The Sunday Times and German Broadcaster ARD

7.The origins of this long inquiry date back to August 2015, when the Committee was concerned about a series of articles that had been published in The Sunday Times. These articles alleged that a significant number of leading endurance runners had recorded suspicious blood tests, without any action being taken to confirm the tests or to punish the alleged wrong-doers. The test for blood-doping involves measuring the amount of haemoglobin in a blood sample, and calculating the proportion of immature red blood cells (reticulocytes) compared with old blood cells. Where unusually high numbers of red blood cells are observed in the circulation, an ‘off score’ can be calculated. The evidence is then compared with a normal off-score for an athlete (taking into account gender). A normal off-score for a man would be in the mid-80s, and for women it would be in the mid-70s.2 The allegations were aired in a documentary by the journalist Hajo Seppelt, Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners, on 3 December 2014 by the German broadcaster ARD/WDR.3 Both the broadcaster and The Sunday Times had been given a copy of a database of the results of blood tests taken by the IAAF between 2001 and 2012.

8.Until 2009, the IAAF’s testers followed up all atypical blood test results with urine tests for the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO).4 During 2009, however, WADA published formal operating guidelines and mandatory standards known as the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).5 The ABP enabled the capture and recording of the results of blood tests over time. For the first time, athletes could be banned purely on their blood test results if a panel of experts agreed that a series of off-scores suggested an “overwhelming likelihood” of doping. The ABP programme was heralded as a significant development in the international fight against the use of EPO and the use of blood transfusions for doping purposes.6

The IAAF database

9.The database provided to The Sunday Times and ARD/WDR had been compiled by the IAAF, and contained the results of 12,359 blood tests from more than 5,000 athletes, conducted over an 11-year period, from the 2001 World Championship (when the IAAF started taking blood samples) up to the eve of the London Olympics in 2012.7

10.The Sunday Times asked two anti-doping experts, Dr Michael Ashenden and Mr Robin Parisotto, to analyse the data of athletes who won medals in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships during this period.8 We invited Dr Ashenden to attend our first session on doping in sport, in September 2015. Both Dr Ashenden and Dr Parisotto were on the research team involved in the creation of the ABP system and they applied its principles to their analysis of the database leaked to The Sunday Times. They identified a number of results that were so abnormal that they thought it likely the athletes had used blood doping and should potentially have faced a ban, in the absence of mitigating factors. The two scientists classified other results as “suspicious”, requiring further investigation.9

11.Overall, the experts found that Russia was the country most tainted by blood-doping, with more than 80% of the country’s medals won by athletes who had given a suspicious blood test at some point in their career. There were also doubts about the integrity of some Kenyan and Ukrainian athletes who had won Olympic/World Championship medals; however, the results from Russia appeared the most disturbing.10

12.The trends in the database analysed by the two experts revealed that, year after year, athletes from Russia, both men and women, senior athletes, under-23s and junior athletes who were under 20 had extreme off-scores.11 According to The Sunday Times, 21 athletes recorded values so extreme that they risked heart attacks or strokes, as unnaturally high levels of red blood cells can thicken the blood.12 Only one of the 26 under-19 and under-23 athletes with extreme off-scores, Yelena Arzhakova, had been disciplined by the IAAF; the incriminating blood test was taken in 2011, and she was competing again by 2015.13

13.The ABP has been an effective tool in tackling blood doping; but it has not solved the problem. Dr Ashenden told the Committee that the database he viewed closed in mid-2012, three years after WADA instigated the ABP.14 He argued that there had been insufficient rigour in following up abnormal scores—and this was confirmed by WADA’s two Independent Commission reports. Dr Ashenden considered that it was “time to stop and pause and think; how could we improve what we are doing now to deter doping?”15

14.Only one-third of the 105 athletes who were identified as likely cheats since the introduction of the ABP were given bans between 2009 and 2012 (though others have been penalised since Russian whistleblower Liliya Shobukhova provided information in 2014 and since the investigations by ARD and The Sunday Times began.) Unlike other sports (for example, cycling), the athletics authorities have allowed athletes with highly abnormal blood scores to continue to compete.

15.When Nicole Sapstead, Chief Executive of UKAD, gave evidence to the Committee, she admitted that UKAD had had no knowledge of the database, prior to the leak by ARD and The Sunday Times.16 This was despite the fact that such data was supposed to be shared between anti-doping organisations since the introduction of the ABP in 2009. She could not explain why the IAAF had not shared its pre-2009 data with UKAD, especially if there was relevant data that referred to UK nationals.17 When Lord Coe, President of the IAAF, gave evidence to the Committee in December 2015, we pressed him about the sharing of databases. He said the IAAF had bilateral agreements with anti-doping agencies including UKAD on the sharing of data, but he gave no explanation as to why the pre-2009 data had not been shared.18 The failure to share databases with anti-doping agencies is inexcusable and undermines a central foundation of the system. Procedures must be put in place by IAAF to ensure that it does not happen again.

Response of athletics authorities to the allegations

16.When alerted to the forthcoming publication of the first article in The Sunday Times on 2 August 2015, the IAAF threatened to takeout an injunction preventing the newspaper from publishing details from the files, but it dropped its action two days before publication. On 4 August 2015 Lord Coe, then a Vice-President of the IAAF, described the allegations published by the journalists in the UK and Germany as “a declaration of war on our sport”.19 On 7 August 2015 WADA announced it would launch an “urgent” investigation into the allegations publicised by ARD and The Sunday Times, and the IAAF agreed to hand its full database, including pre-2009 test results, to WADA, adding that it “will invite WADA officials to study that material with the support of relevant IAAF anti-doping experts with immediate effect.”20

17.The IAAF issued a 38-page response to the findings of Mr Parisotto and Dr Ashenden in late November 2015, shortly after publication of the first part of the Independent Commission’s report and a few days before Lord Coe, who had recently become President of the IAAF, was due to give evidence to the Committee.21 In this paper the IAAF vehemently denied that it had “sat idly by and let [blood doping] happen”, stating that 145 athletes had been banned for using erythropoietin (EPO) between 2001 and November 2015. It described its actions in that period as “one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive blood testing programmes in place at the time”, citing in detail a number of cases where it had investigated individual results, and arguing that before the advent of the ABP, the procedures for collecting and handling of blood samples had not been standardised, so the results from testing could not be considered scientifically accurate and therefore could not be compared from one sample to the next.22 The IAAF said it had “acted at all times during this period in accordance with its rules and making full use of the anti-doping tools that were available to it as well as (when those tools proved inadequate) ground-breaking DNA techniques that had never been used before in sport”.23 The IAAF did not explain why it did not share the relevant information with anti-doping agencies.

18.Dr Ashenden and Mr Parisotto issued separate statements in reply to the IAAF’s paper.24 They reiterated their views that, despite the fact that the pre-2009 tests were less reliable than the later ones, some of the scores were so high that they still provided an indication that wrong-doing might have taken place and should have been followed up more consistently. Ashenden is reported to have said: “Faced with the life-threatening blood values which they knew existed among their athletes […] They should have tried to push the legal envelope […] The IAAF were legally timid when they should have been morally strong.”25

19.Noting that not all the information required for a proper evaluation of a blood passport was included in the database, WADA’s experts criticised Drs Ashenden and Parisotto for drawing definite conclusions on the basis of the incomplete data. However, the Independent Commission’s report emphasised that no-one had challenged the scientific credentials of either Dr Ashenden or Dr Parisotto, and that expert witnesses often disagreed, adding:

No-one has challenged the methodology applied in reaching their conclusions, subject only to the pivotal concern that looking solely at information included in the IAAF database is not sufficient to factor in all of the information that might possibly have had some impact on the values recorded in the database (such as altitude, vigorous exercise prior to the tests, analyser error, variations between the use of different equipment). This is not to say, however, that there are no other investigative models that might also have been available.26 In evidence given to the IC, Dr Ashenden freely acknowledged that it would have been extremely difficult to get a conviction prior to the adoption of the ABP.27 However, as the examples cited by the IAAF in its rebuttal of The Sunday Times allegations show, people were prosecuted successfully for doping before 2009.28

20.Despite the disputes among experts, there appears to be consensus about the methodology for determining off-scores and the levels of off-score that indicate further tests and/or questioning of athletes should be required. The key difference between The Sunday Times’s experts and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) seems to be whether the IAAF should have been more proactive in following up results. As the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission’s reports indicate, great damage may be done to a sport when its governing body fails to take action against doping. The failure by the IAAF to share information with national anti-doping agencies is a matter of deep concern. It raises questions about the IAAF’s commitment fully to investigate difficult issues when they arise. The emerging picture is of a prevalence of doping in athletics which was greater than was officially recognised when this inquiry began. The work of whistleblowers and investigative journalists has helped to bring this to the fore. Rather than their work being tantamount to a “declaration of war” on sport, a very ill-judged statement, it should be seen as a warning light that was acted upon too late. We want Lord Coe to succeed in his difficult task of eliminating doping in athletics. To achieve this, he and the IAAF must encourage, not criticise, efforts by others to help.

21.There also need to be clearer protocols in place to ensure that national anti-doping authorities are notified when other sports bodies receive suspicious test results relating to athletes under their, and perhaps other, jurisdictions.

WADA’s investigations into Russia

22.Meanwhile, in 2014 and 2015, WADA commissioned two investigations into doping in Russia. The first was undertaken by the Independent Commission (IC) led by the former President of WADA, Dick Pound; its findings were published in two parts, the first in November 2015 and the second in January 2016. The report addressed allegations of a sophisticated and well-established system of state-sponsored doping within the All Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the governing body for the sport of athletics in Russia.29 In August 2015, WADA expanded the Terms of Reference of its Independent Commission following a second broadcast by ARD and publication of data relating to a number of athletes under the jurisdiction of the IAAF.30

23.The second part of the report, published on 14 January 2016, investigated possible corruption at the IAAF and found evidence of collusion between senior IAAF officials and the Russian athletics and anti-doping organisations in delaying testing of athletes, suppressing investigations and mitigating the punishments of athletes found guilty of doping.31 As a result of the inquiries, a number of IAAF officials, including the former President of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, were investigated by the police and the IAAF itself. Within Russia, the President of the ARAF and some coaches were removed, and the Head Coach resigned. The two IC reports led to Russian athletes being banned from international competition in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

24.The second of WADA’s investigations was launched on 19 May 2016, when WADA announced the appointment of Professor Richard H. McLaren to conduct an investigation into the allegations made by the former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, that he doped dozens of athletes, including at least 15 medallists, in the build-up to the Sochi Winter Olympic Games and switched urine samples so that they could evade detection.32 He claimed this was the result of an elaborate and orchestrated plot with the Russian government, which exploited its host status to subvert the drug-testing programme. The Russian government repeatedly denied the claims.

25.Dr Rodchenkov also alleged that he doped athletes before the 2012 Olympics in London, the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow and the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan. Professor McLaren’s investigation established beyond reasonable doubt that sample swapping went on at the Sochi Laboratory during the Sochi Games. The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of state oversight and direct control of the Moscow Laboratory in processing, and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games. The Ministry of Sport, Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) were all involved in this operation.

26.At the press conference for the report’s release, McLaren made the following statement:

The Russian Olympic team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which will probably never be fully established. This corruption involved the on-going use of prohibited substances, washout testing and false reporting. The cover-up evolved over the years from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning strategy and conspiracy.

An institutionalised conspiracy existed across summer and winter sports athletes who participated with Russian officials within the Ministry of Sport and its infrastructure, such as the RUSADA, and the Moscow Laboratory along with the FSB for the purpose of manipulating doping controls. These athletes were not acting individually but within an organised infrastructure.33

27.The McLaren report (the first part of which was published in July 2016, with detailed analysis of suspicious results for named athletes published as a second part in December 2016) did not make any recommendations, but contributed to calls for a complete ban on Russia from taking part in Rio’s Olympics in August.34 Subsequently, it was reported that there was widespread doping among athletes training in Kenya. Revelations about doping in a variety of sports continue to emerge.35

28.As the analysis by Dr Ashenden and Mr Parisotto had indicated, WADA’s Independent Commission found widespread doping among Russian athletes. Many of the worst offenders appeared to be coaches, who had previously been athletes themselves, working together with medical personnel. Individual Russian athletes had been caught and punished previously, but the IC’s reports emphasised the systematic and state-sponsored nature of the doping, with the encouragement of the All Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow. This situation was enabled by the corruption, collusion or wilful ignorance of IAAF officials, and is shown—amongst other things—by the allegations relating to the former IAAF President Lamine Diack and his family, and those relating to Nick Davies, Deputy Director General of the IAAF.

29.Lamine Diack was elected by the IAAF Congress for four successive terms as President of the IAAF, thereby holding office for 16 years from 1999 until August 2015. The IC report said that the operational failure of checks and balances within the IAAF gave the President the ability to direct changes in the established practices of the Medical and Anti-Doping Department and enabled contracts with consultants whose personal interests were not aligned with those of the IAAF.36 It concluded that ex-President Diack was “responsible for organising and enabling the conspiracy and corruption that took place in the IAAF”, adding that “corruption was embedded in the organisation” and “cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own”.37

30.Meanwhile, the IAAF’s Ethics Board suspended Deputy Director General Nick Davies, his wife Jane Boulter-Davies, and medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier for 180 days following the revelation that Nick Davies had emailed the son of Lamine Diack, Papa Massata Diack, before the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow outlining a plan to delay naming Russian cheats to avoid bad publicity.38

Lord Coe’s evidence to the Committee

31.Our predecessors were keen to discover what was known about the doping and corruption within the IAAF, and especially among officers such as Lord Coe, who had always taken a strong stand against doping. On 2 December 2015, Lord Coe gave evidence about his response to The Sunday Times and the first part of the Independent Commission’s report. Lord Coe was questioned on what role he had played during his time as Vice-President in addressing the allegations of systemic doping by Russian athletes.39 He noted that the IAAF’s Anti-Doping unit reported to the IAAF Council every six months40 and said he, and the IAAF’s Council in general, were aware of the problem of blood doping in athletics, but not the numbers of athletes involved, or the specific allegations that had been made around the corruption of anti-doping processes in Russia.41 He argued that he was one of four Vice Presidents and not a senior Vice President; while he became a council member in 2003, he had led a team from that time until 2013 to deliver the London 2012 Games; and he held a non-operational role.42

32.We questioned Lord Coe over the fact that there were many doping allegations during this time, yet the IAAF seemed oblivious and did not press charges. Lord Coe stated that “when those issues have been raised in council there has always been an assurance, through the anti-doping unit and through the general secretary, that the systems in place were robust”. He did state the following:

I am happy to concede here: was too much power vested in too few people within the organisation? Yes, clearly. Is that the case probably in the traditional structures across sport? Yes. Can those be changed? They have to be because we have to lower the walls. We cannot have a situation where you are not able to properly interrogate and make sure that the right systems are in place. Will I put those systems in place? Yes. Can those changes be made quickly? Yes, they can. Can we return to trust? That is going to take far longer.

33.When Lord Coe was asked about his specific knowledge of doping relating to athletics in Russia before the broadcast of the ARD documentary, he said: “Well, because we were not aware of the specific nature of those allegations. We were not aware—I was certainly not aware—of the specific allegations that had been made around the corruption of anti-doping processes in Russia”. Later, in the same evidence session, Lord Coe was asked whether he was ‘oblivious’ to wrongdoing in athletics, to which he replied, “No, not oblivious but not across the individual allegations that have surfaced recently.”43

34.Lord Coe was also asked about his reaction to the arrest of Lamine Diack in November 2015, and the allegations and charges made against him.44 Lord Coe replied: “Shock. Shock suffused with sorrow and anger.” He told us that he had had no previous knowledge within the IAAF about Lamine Diack being involved in corrupt activity, or about the allegations against his son, Papa Massara Diack. The allegations were aired in the ARD documentary, and after that, Papa Massara Diack stepped down, along with the treasurer of the IAAF, Mr. Balaknickev, pending the outcome of the then IAAF Ethics Committee’s report.45 When pressed as to what he had done over the past eight years as Vice President, Lord Coe referred to what he had done in the last 67 days, which was to set up an independent integrity unit after the media made public the allegations and WADA’s first IC report was published.

35.The Committee asked Lord Coe if it would be better to separate the enforcement, general regulation and governance at the IAAF. He admitted that the IAAF needed to create more independence in its anti-doping processes, to have a root and branch reform of the organisation, including its corporate governances, and its operational and financial functions, but he felt all of these reforms should sit with the IAAF’s Integrity Unit.46

Subsequent evidence regarding corruption at the IAAF

36.On 16 June 2016, a BBC Panorama documentary was aired, ‘Seb Coe and the Corruption Scandal’. Mark Daly, a BBC journalist, alleged that, together with a journalist from the Daily Mail, he had seen evidence that undermined Lord Coe’s assertions that he had been unaware of the scale of corruption at the IAAF in relation to doping.

37.In the 2014 ARD German documentary, Hajo Seppelt exposed state sponsored doping among Russian athletes including the former world No. 1 marathon runner, Ms Liliya Shobukhova. Ms Shobukhova recorded extreme blood scores for nine years before action was finally taken against her. Two of her scores had a billion-to-one chance of being natural. Ms Shobukhova was charged by the IAAF for an anti-doping rule violation on the basis of abnormalities in her blood profile after 2009.

38.The documentary revealed that Ms Shobukhova had been asked to pay 450,000 euros to senior athletics officials to have her drugs offences covered up; the payments were made via a company called Black Tidings linked to Papa Massata Diack, son of the IAAF President, Lamine Diack. Officials within the IAAF brought the matter to public attention when they saw Ms Shobukhova in the line-up to run at the London 2012 Olympics. The Russian Athletic Federation contacted Ms Shobukhova and said they would have to ban her, despite the payment. Ms Shobukhova then demanded her money back. She was given a partial refund of 300,000 euros, made from an account belonging to Papa Massatta Diack; at the time he was a marketing consultant and Treasurer for the IAAF.47 She received a three years and two months ban from competing for a first violation.48

39.In April 2014, an IAAF employee helped Ms Shobukhova’s agent to compile a complaint, detailing the allegations of corruption and extortion. That complaint was submitted directly to the Chair of the IAAF’s Ethics Committee, Sir Michael Beloff QC, with the help of the former world-record holding athlete and London Marathon Director, David Bedford. Mr Bedford gave oral evidence to the Committee on 10th January 2017 and was asked what response he had from Michael Beloff after the submission was made, to which he replied: “None, and I suppose that when you have been part of a complaint going in, it is quite easy to be concerned that silence means no action…Things were very, very quiet for quite some time. It was probably this quietness that was one of the reasons why I brought the matter to the attention of Seb Coe.”49 Mr Bedford went on to add that one of the reasons he had contacted Lord Coe was that he was “concerned that there might be a cover-up. I had no reason to believe there might be a cover-up but felt that if someone of credibility within the IAAF Council was aware of this that it would make it less likely for any rearguard action to happen.”50

40.In August 2014, following a telephone conversation with Lord Coe, David Bedford sent him an email, containing a number of attachments detailing the corruption, extortion and bribery allegations regarding Russian athletes, naming Liliya Shobukhova and suggesting that Papa Massata Diack could have been involved. David Bedford’s email read as follows:

Seb, the attachments relate to an issue that is being investigated by the IAAF Ethics Commission (Michael Beloff). I don’t know whether you’ve been briefed by anyone but I feel you should be made aware of it. For a short read and overview, may I suggest that you look at mbeloffreport.docx. I would be happy to meet you informally to discuss my involvement in this matter if you felt it was useful.51

This was four months before the German documentary revealed the scandal.

41.The existence of the email and the detailed nature of its contents became public when the BBC Panorama documentary was broadcast, six months after Lord Coe had given evidence to our predecessors, saying that he had known only generally about doping in Russian athletics and had had no knowledge of the involvement of the Diack family.

42.In a statement on the day that Panorama was broadcast, the IAAF said Lord Coe had had a conversation with David Bedford about the rumours and allegations but not the details. Lord Coe said he then received an email from Mr Bedford with attachments, but that he had not opened these, and had forwarded it to Michael Beloff as the Chair of the IAAF’s Ethics Commission.52 The full email exchange between Lord Coe and Michael Beloff was requested by the Committee from Lord Coe and was published on 31 January 2017. In his email of 14 August 2014 to Michael Beloff, Lord Coe states, “I have in the last couple of days received copied documentation of serious allegations being made by and on behalf of the Russian female athlete Shobukhova from David Bedford. I have spoken to David today on the phone and he advises me that he has shared this information with you. Should I forward this documentation to you? The purpose of this note is of course to advise you that I have now been made aware of the allegations”.53 In oral evidence, Mr Bedford told the Committee that people might think that it showed a lack of curiosity on Lord Coe’s part to have not opened the email attachments.

43.The IAAF statement in response to the BBC’s Panorama programme responded to the two allegations made by the BBC. The first claim was that Lord Coe was aware of the detailed allegations of corruption within the IAAF which precipitated the Ethics Commission investigation, four months before the corruption allegations became public; and that there is electronic evidence that Lord Coe enlisted the services of Papa Massata Diack, for campaign advice, ahead of the IAAF presidential election in August 2015. The IAAF states that:

The Ethics Commission (as it then was) was deliberately established as a quasi-judicial body to investigate all allegations of corruption and breaches of the IAAF Rules. It is independent of the IAAF. […] He [Seb Coe] did receive an email from Dave Bedford that said ‘The attachments relate to an issue that is being investigated by the IAAF EC (Michael Beloff)’. This was enough for Seb Coe to forward the email to the Ethics Commission. He did not feel it was necessary to read the attachments.

You may think this shows a lack of curiosity. He, and we, would argue that it shows a full duty of care. Ensuring the right people in the right place were aware of allegations and were investigating them.

[…]

The suggestion that Seb Coe was actively seeking Papa Massata Diack’s advice about his campaign is wrong. As with any campaign, lots of people offer advice – wanted or not, some helpful, some not. You try to be civil but wary. This was the case with Mr Diack. He sent messages of support while at the same time supporting other candidates and accusing Seb Coe of leading a British media campaign against both him and his father.54

Reaction of the IAAF to the IC Report

44.Meanwhile, four days after the publication of the first Independent Commission (IC) report, the IAAF took the unprecedented step of suspending Russia from all competitions. The ban has been extended, leading to there being no Russian team at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the European Athletics Indoor Championships in March 2017, and the World Athletics Championships in London in August 2017. However, the IAAF also agreed to amend competition rules to allow individual Russian athletes to apply for eligibility, on an exceptional basis and subject to meeting strict criteria. This would enable them to take part in international competitions, including the Olympic Games, in an individual capacity as neutral athletes, and not under any country’s flag.55 This happened at the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea (where Russian competitors again failed doping tests).

45.Russia has been marred with controversy over doping scandals in the past few years, but one of the most shocking aspects of the Shobukhova case is the collusion of athletics officials in extorting money from drugs cheats in order to protect their identity and the failure of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to have systems in place to expose corruption within the organisations. When Lord Coe appeared before the Committee in December 2015 he sought to distance himself from any knowledge of the allegations of doping in Russian athletics, before the details were exposed in the German documentary. His answers to us about this were misleading: Lord Coe may not have read the email and attachments sent to him by David Bedford, whose actions we commend, but it stretches credibility to believe that he was not aware, at least in general terms, of the main allegations that the Ethics Commission had been asked to investigate. It is certainly disappointing that Lord Coe did not take the opportunity, given to him by David Bedford, to make sure he was fully informed of the serious issues at stake in the Shobukhova case and their wider implications for the governance of the anti-doping rules at the IAAF. These are matters of the greatest seriousness and affect the reputation of both the IAAF and Lord Coe, and we commend David Bedford for his stance and evidence in shedding more light on this sad state of affairs. We wish, in the future, to see rigorous systems in place to deal with such matters and individuals acting with curiosity and concern when presented with compelling, important evidence.

46.We note the progress that the IAAF is making in establishing more independent processes for the investigation of serious complaints brought by whistleblowers. However, the Shobukhova case raises concerns about whether national or international sports federations are capable of investigating themselves when the allegations involve senior figures within the organisation itself. There is a real danger that internal politics inevitably plays a part in the process.

47.We welcome, as positive steps, the development of the Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competition, the launch of the International Sport Integrity Partnership and the partnership between the International Olympic Committee and Interpol. Protecting the integrity of sport requires powerful independent organisations to have the means to fully investigate the most serious allegations of corruption.

The University of Tübingen Study

48.The question of whether the IAAF seeks to suppress the knowledge of doping in sport was highlighted again in reference to a study of doping carried out by the University of Tübingen. WADA funded a study by ten international academics to carry out the survey at the 2011 athletics world championships in Daegu, South Korea, and the Twelfth Quadriennial Pan-Arab Games at Doha, Qatar to assess the prevalence of doping. They asked 2,167 athletes: “Have you knowingly violated anti-doping regulations by using a prohibited substance or method in the last 12 months?” The method used was the ‘randomised response technique’, allowing investigators to pose sensitive questions to respondents in a manner that visibly guarantees the respondent’s anonymity in order to encourage truthful responses.56 The lead author of the study was Rolf Ulrich, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Tübingen University, Germany.57

49.Of the athletes surveyed, hundreds confessed to having used performance-enhancing drugs or techniques such as blood transfusions. Once the academics had discounted those who might have lied or misunderstood the question, they concluded that “at least 29%” and possibly 34% of those competing at the world championships had cheated in the past year. The study concluded: “These findings demonstrate that doping is remarkably widespread among elite athletes, and remains largely unchecked despite current biological testing programmes.” It noted that current testing procedures were detecting just 1-2% of doping among top athletes. The findings showed the need for “even more vigilant future anti-doping methods”.58

50.The study showed an estimated prevalence of doping in the last year of 43.6% at the World Athletics Championships and of 57.1% at the Pan-Arab Games.59 The authors commented: “Sensitivity analyses, assessing the robustness of the estimates under numerous hypothetical scenarios of intentional or unintentional non-compliance by respondents, suggested that we were unlikely to have overestimated the true prevalence of doping.”60

51.The authors were keen to have this paper peer-reviewed and published by a respectable scientific journal, as they believed that the technique they used would be helpful in addressing doping. However, when the Committee was sent a copy, in February 2016, it had still not been published. Although funded by WADA, the information collected from the athletes was the property of the IAAF, as ‘guardian’ of athletes’ interests, and the IAAF refused to give permission for that information to be released, which meant that WADA could not agree to the publication of the study that it had sponsored.61

52.Tübingen University told us that, after the data had been collected, all the researchers were required by WADA to sign retrospective confidentiality clauses, preventing them from discussing their findings. The university added that the academics “were not informed WADA had agreed with the IAAF that it would only publish the study in a scientific journal with the IAAF’s prior approval.” Tübingen said it had been told that the delays were caused by changes of staff in the IAAF’s anti-doping team. “However, these individuals have still not let it be known when the study will finally be approved for publication—or indeed, if it ever will be approved. […] The study is an independently initiated scientific research project and was not commissioned by the IAAF.”62

53.WADA explained that it had sought the agreement of the IAAF to carry out the project at the Daegu world championships in 2011, and the IAAF’s consent was conditional upon any publication first being approved by the IAAF.63 The IAAF said it was “surprised” details had emerged of a study “which has not yet been published”, adding, “Discussions are ongoing with the research team and WADA regarding publication of the study.”64

54.When we raised the issue with Nicole Sapstead of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) she said: “The time is right now to show some clear transparency, so why would you not publish that report?”65 Our predecessors thought the research in the paper important enough to make its conclusions public, and written evidence was published on the Committee’s website.66

55.The Committee’s repeated calls for the IAAF to grant WADA permission to publish the study that it had commissioned were ignored. When questioned, Lord Coe offered a variety of answers. First, he said that the issue for the IAAF was about the effectiveness of the methodology, as their conclusions were based on data from a questionnaire. He later said that the IAAF were still checking on the methodology, and as long as the methodology that the scientists used was appropriate and the conclusions drawn were on a scientific basis, then he would agree.67 Lord Coe also indicated that he thought publication of the report unnecessary, as it had already been published on the Committee’s website.

56.Professor Ulrich and Georg Sandberger, Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Tübingen, wrote to us following our evidence session with Lord Coe and Thomas Capdevielle, rejecting the evidence of Lord Coe and Mr. Capdevielle, writing that “their statements are contradictory and—from our point of view—in parts also untrue. […] Further withholding the results of this study is also an enormous damage to the efforts of combatting doping and against scientific freedom.”68 They made the point that, without publication and the accompanying peer-review, the study would not achieve scientific and official recognition:

Lord Coe repeatedly claimed that the paper Doping in Elite Sports Assessed by Randomized-Response Surveys was rejected by several journals.69 The University refuted this claim. They said “the paper was never submitted to several journals. They had written on one occasion a pre-submission inquiry to the journal Science. However, their request was turned down because the editor felt that it did not fit their categories of articles. It was therefore rejected before any scientific review, therefore the fact it was rejected had nothing to do with its scientific validity.70

57.Professor Ulrich argued: “On the one hand they [the IAAF] say that they have no right to veto, but on the other hand they are claiming that it is legitimate to verify the validity of the article before they give permission to publish (thereby contending that they have power to veto)”.71 Thomas Capdevielle, Anti-Doping Senior Manager/Acting Operations Director at the IAAF, told us that the IAAF had sought independent advice from social science specialists about the methodology the University had used.72 In their rebuttal, Professor Ulrich said this was never revealed to them: in fact, it was not clear to them how many reviewers were asked and whether those reviewers were independent of the IAAF.73

58.There was no good reason why the Tübingen paper should not have been formally published several years ago. The International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) claim that it needed to check the methodology is entirely spurious, since one explicit aim of the study’s authors was to test the validity of the methodology they were using, which was, in their view, one of the key areas for peer review. Lord Coe’s assertion that there was no need for the IAAF to publish the document because it was now available via the Committee website is frankly risible. We are pleased to note that the Tübingen study was finally published in August 2017, taking almost six years to be officially published. We find the IAAF’s stated reasons for blocking publication of the study to be unconvincing, and we are concerned that their behaviour indicates a lack of transparency and, worse, an apparent desire to suppress revelations about doping in sport. It is another example of a reluctance to share evidence relating to doping which suggests that the IAAF is more concerned with preventing dissemination of evidence on the subject than addressing the core issue of doping itself. We call on Lord Coe, as President, to ensure that the IAAF acts resolutely at all times to tackle doping in athletics and to restore its tattered reputation.


2 Off-scores are calculated from the haemoglobin (a protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood) concentration, the reticulocyte (immature blood cells) percentage and an abnormal profile score.

3 Hajo Suppelt, Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners (3 December 2014)

4 This of course provided no evidence on whether athletes might have been transfusing their own blood for doping.

6 The ABP program is administered through WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS), a secure online database whose purpose is to assist stakeholders and WADA in their anti-doping operations: Q74

7Revealed: Sport’s Dirtiest Secret”, The Sunday Times, 2 August 2015

8 Mr Parisotto, an Australian stem cell scientist, was one of the authors of a key paper on blood doping published in 2000 in the scientific journal Haematologica, and pioneered the first test for EPO. He was also the author of a book, Blood Sports: the inside dope on drugs in sport, published in 2006. Both he and Dr Ashenden were members of the expert panel of the international cycling body, the UCI. Dr Ashenden, an exercise physiologist, had worked with WADA and had given evidence against Lance Armstrong, who in 2012 was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping. Dr Ashenden was asked to join the IAAF’s own expert panel in 2012, but refused because of the requirement to sign a confidentiality agreement that would have prevented him from speaking out on doping.

9 Q5

12The Doping Scandal”, The Sunday Times, August 2015

13Russian cheats hit junior athletics”, The Sunday Times, August 2015

19 Widely reported: see, for example, “Lord Code: allegations against IAAF are declaration of war on my sport”, The Guardian, 4 August 2015

20Shadow over the London Marathon”, The Times, August 9 2015

22 IAAF, “IAAF Blood-Testing 2001-2012: IAAF’s response to allegations of blood doping in athletics”, November 2015, paras 2.5, 2.11 and section 4A

24 Dr Michael Ashenden (BDA003), 7 September 2015

28 IAAF, “IAAF Blood-Testing 2001-2012: IAAF’s response to allegations of blood doping in athletics”, November 2015, section 2. For example, the IAAF’s own experts used its pre-2009 blood tests as evidence against Eirini Kokkinariou, a Greek long-distance runner, when it was appealing to double her suspension to four years in 2012. The Court of Arbitration for Sport found sufficient evidence that Kokkinariou had been using banned substances since 2006, but erased her competitive results only from the start of the biological passport period.

32 Professor McLaren is a law professor at Western University, Canada, and was previously a member of WADA’s three-person Independent Commission. Working independently, Professor McLaren was supported by a multidisciplinary team. He has conducted many international investigations related to doping and corruption.

33 Comments reported in The Guardian, 9 December 2016

34 Professor Richard McLaren, McLaren Independent Investigation into Sochi Allegations Part 1 (18 July 2016)

35 The Times, “New drug shock for British athletics”, 10 July 2016

38 See BBC Panorama, “Seb Coe and the Corruption Scandal”, broadcast on 16 June 2016

39 Lord Coe had been Vice President of the IAAF since 2007, becoming President in August 2015.

40 Q213

47 After the German documentary in December 2014, Papa Diack suspended himself from IAAF activity. In January 2016 he was banned for life from athletics. 

48 She subsequently received a reduction of seven months for assisting the IAAF in discovering or bringing forward an anti-doping rule violation. Her sanction finished on 23 August 2015: IAAF Statement on the reduction of sanction for Liliya Shobukhova, published 24 August 2015

51 David Bedford, Correspondence with the DCMS Committee, 31 January 2017

52 IAAF Press Release, 16 June 2016

53 David Bedford, Correspondence with the DCMS Committee, 31 January 2017

54 IAAF Press Release, 16 June 2016

56 Those taking part knew their anonymity was protected by the methodology of the study. While two-thirds were asked about doping, the remainder were asked a benign question. The data did not reveal which group an individual athlete was in.

57 Other authors of the study were scientists from the Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, Swansea University, Kingston University, University of Sheffield, Molde University College in Norway, the University of Northern Colorado, the Colorado School of Public Health and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Doping in two elite athletics competitions assessed by randomised-response surveys, Rolf Ulrich et al, 28 August 2017.

59 The study states that these figures are in line with other, smaller-scale studies using similar techniques of questioning, carried out in Germany.

68 University of Tübingen (BDA0005), 23 February 2016

70 University of Tübingen (BDA0005), Point 2

71 University of Tübingen (BDA0005), Point 4

73 University of Tübingen (BDA0005), Point 3




2 March 2018