IAAF Long Suspicious of Marta Domínguez

Translated by Stewart Atkins for LetsRun.com
December 23, 2010

Editor's note: LetsRun.com reader Stewart Atkins has been translating some articles for us on the track and field doping scandal in Spain.  Below is the translation of this El Pais article.

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/deportes/Sospechosa/IAAF/elpepidep/20101223elpepidep_3/Tes

Long suspected by the IAAF
The international federation, wary of the “correctness” of Domínguez's hematologic profile, had the track and field star undergo a barrage of surprise drug tests

C.ARRIBAS - Madrid - 23/12/2010

There are times when being too perfect, and too consistent, raises red flags.  This is what happened with Marta Domínguez, in the opinion of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), whose antidoping experts have for years seen in Domínguez's blood profile too much correctness, and far too little variation.  As a result they didn't think twice about including her on a list of suspicious athletes, athletes whom they were sure were doping, based on indirect findings, but for whom they still lacked absolute proof.  In an attempt to find the exact substance whose effects they could clearly see in the tests, the IAAF had this select group of suspicious athletes undergo an increased number of antidoping controls.

This strategy was put into practice with Marta Domínguez during the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.  According to sources familiar to the case, on Friday, August 14, the IAAF antidoping inspectors thought Domínguez's blood test (measuring her hematocrit, hemoglobin, and reticulocyte levels) looked so suspicious that they ordered an immediate follow-up urine test to look for EPO and CERA.  They were in such a rush to get the test done that they didn't realize that Domínguez was scheduled to compete in the semifinals of the 3000 meter steeplechase just an hour later (at 11:18 am).  Domínguez and her team openly protested this late control and the IAAF admitted that they had perhaps been too insensitive to her rights as an athlete.  The drug test ended up being negative, just like all of the other drug tests Domínguez has ever had.  And after not doing particularly well in that semifinal, two days later she won the final and the World Championship gold medal, finishing in an extraordinary time of 9:07.32, the best time of the year and the third fastest of all time.  

The IAAF's suspicions weren't solely due to the predictable chart that could be traced from Domínguez's hematocrit values over the course of years, which were always the same and predicable and well within permitted limits.  Rather, these suspicious also came out of the fact that even before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the IAAF had received warning from the Spanish Federation that Domínguez had begun working with César Pérez, the hurdling coach who has since been charged in Operation Greyhound.  

While the Spanish Federation cannot initiate proceedings against Domínguez for doping while she remains charged in this investigation (the mere possession of banned substances, which the Federal Police is accusing her of, is already reason enough for a sanction) the Federation can in fact give her a provisional suspension.  Nevertheless, given that the world champion already announced that she was taking a leave of absence from the sport due to her pregnancy and hasn't expressed a desire to compete in the coming months, that measure (provisionally suspending her) is not a pressing concern.  In an event, even if she is not immediately found to be guilty, the dismissal of this charge will likely take months, according to experts.   

Despite the fact the IAAF has not yet begun using biological passports, which would permit the organization to sanction athletes based on indirect evidence alone (and without the need to have a positive drug test), antidoping agents are already all too familiar with the various methods athletes use to cheat the system.  This sophisticated cheating leads to the sort of excessive “correctness” that in the end focused their attention on Domínguez.  Such deceptive methods involve using EPO in small doses following a stay at altitude, and coupling this with an antidiuretic hormone.  This hormone, which, while normally used to treat incontinence and bed-wetting, does leave the following trace: an increased volume of red blood cells.  This effect, consequently, has been observed in the profiles of a number of suspicious athletes.  

More Spanish Doping Translations:
December 22:
*Marta Domínguez Testifies In Court And Is Released, Says "I'm positive that I'm innocent."
December 21:
*Natalia Rodriguez's Coach Talks About Doping Scandal, Looks Back to 2009 and Sees Some Thing Differently

*December 20: Marta Domínguez to Testify in Court This Wednesday
*Martín Fiz: “You've got to respect Marta for all that she has done
*Jesus España: "Those Who Dope Aren't Teammates of Mine"

*Previous:
* 2009 European XC Champ Alemayehu Bezabeh May Have Been Duped By His Coach Into Blood Doping And Could Possibly Get Off Because He Didn't Reinject Blood
*
A Bag Of Blood From Operation Puerto In 2006 Was Linked To Marta Dominguez And Helped Kick Off This Probe 
*Marta Domínguez: "I've Never Dealt Drugs."
*Last Year's European XC Champ Alemayehu Bezabeh Admitted He Was Just About To Transfuse A Bag Of Blood
Bezabah apparently thought there was nothing wrong with it and for some reason we believe he's telling the truth. "He told me that he was just about to tap the bag, and when I told him that this was doping and that he couldn't be on the team, he was shocked."
*Jesus España: "It was a well-known secret"
*
"It's very easy to walk into a doctor's office with 7,000 bucks in your pocket (5,000 euros) and tell the doctor that 'the time has come to reach my full potential. Do anything you have to do, here are my veins. Just make me into a champion.' I could have done that."

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