"As a test, and demonstrate the need for implementation in athletics of the biological passport, a mechanism already used in cycling and takes into account the normal hematologic values of an athlete over the years to identify potential leads due doping, a group of scientists from the anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne and the IAAF, among which is the Spanish physician Juan Manuel Alonso, have published a study using the basis of the 7289 blood samples collected from 2001 to 2737 athletes from all over the world, most of them long distance runners.
His conclusion is dramatic: 14% of the samples are suspected of blood doping (use of EPO or autologous) if the formula is applied to the passport, which includes the relationship between hematocrit, hemoglobin and reticulocytes.
This fact, stated by the authors as a major argument for implementing the passport serves, however, to reveal that the IAAF was aware for years that there was a large number of athletes who are not cheaters punished.
"The study raises more questions than it answers. It shows that during the last decade, the IAAF knew what athletes showed abnormal hematologic results," says Australian scientist Michael Ashenden, one of the world's greatest experts on blood doping, "it is sad that a federation with much power as the IAAF have chosen so far not punish these cases, while a smaller, as the UCI, to assume the legal risk to test the passport in court. Anyway, better late than never." Recently, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) gave a big boost to the passport as an indirect method of drug testing to punish cyclists Italian Pietro Caucchioli and Franco Pellizotti.
Another finding of the study, published in the journal Clinical Chemistry, is the great heterogeneity of results by geographic region of the athletes. There is a country where 48% of the samples are suspect, another 39%, another 23%... While the study clearly anonymous, does not reveal the names of countries, extrapolating the number of positive doping cases in recent years, it can be concluded without error that are Russia, Morocco, France and Spain the most polluted as well as Operation Greyhound has revealed.
"If we accept everything he says the study, 20% of those 2737 athletes could be punished. But, being more conservative, talk about 100 world-class. Assuming that half are still competing, speak of 50 possible cases doping, "said Ashenden, who, besides great defender of the passport, one of the experts of the UCI for the analysis of the data," the implications of this issue are enormous not only for what they pose to the track itself but also by the unprecedented legal burden would have on the sports courts."