By Brian Homewood
DOHA (Reuters) – Samples from athletes competing at the world championships in Doha will be transferred to a laboratory abroad as part of what watchdog the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) described on Tuesday as an “unprecedented integrity program.”
The news came a day after the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, extended a ban on Russia first imposed in November 2015 after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of widespread doping by the country’s athletes.
“Transferring samples of athletes from the host nation to another WADA-accredited laboratory is a proactive measure to avoid any perception of conflict,” said AIU chairman David Howman.
“Public confidence in the integrity of a sporting event is paramount, and we do not want to leave any stone unturned to ensure this is achieved for the biggest athletics event.”
The competition in Doha will be the first since the IAAF ruled that member federations designated as being high-risk for doping were ordered to ensure that competing athletes have gone through the minimum required number of out-of-competition tests.
Howman said that the new rule “has made sure that the athletes competing in Doha will have gone through an unprecedented level of testing and education.”
“I must thank the IAAF Member Federations for having risen to the occasion, in particular those federations which have been initially identified as high-risk category A countries,” he said.
Several dozen track and field athletes, including medal winners, from a number of countries were among those disqualified from the London Olympics for doping offences uncovered in post-competition tests.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Hugh Lawson)