Nine Over-Hyped Doping Suspensions Or A Savvy PR Move Gone Too Far?

The IAAF Brags About How Tough They Are On Doping, Yet Four Of The Nine Hadn't Even Competed in 2012

By Robert Johnson
July 12, 2012

If your experience was like mine this afternoon, you might have almost had a coronary. I was driving in the car and the CBS news came on the radio at 12 noon ET. One of the leading stories, if not the leading story, was a breaking story from London about how track and field's governing body was announcing the doping suspensions of nine track and field athletes whose names hadn't been released yet. I was like, "Oh my god, this is going to be big."

And the names are now out and stories on the suspensions have hit the wires as the IAAF statement on the matter has gone global. You can read the AP story on the suspensions by clicking on either of the images below.

The story is certainly an important one, as six of the suspensions came about because of the biological passport system - so clearly the anti-doping authorities were keeping close tabs on the suspected cheats.

And the list does include a few sort of big names, as 2:05:30 marathoner Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco - who four times has been a runner-up at a major, including twice in New York - is on the list (the seven mid-d/distance runners who got bans today and then the two non-distance runners are all listed with their accomplishments at the bottom of this article).

But to be truthful, I'm the one that feels a bit cheated.

I'm not sure if it's just sloppy reporting by people not used to covering athletics on a regular basis or purposeful manipulation of the press by the IAAF or most likely both, but to be truthful, the news announced today was far from breaking news and the AP headline of "IAAF announced 9 new doping cases" is flat out inaccurate.

10 minutes of research reveals that a lot of this is old news that was repackaged in London. The fact of the matter is Goumri was provisionally suspended by the IAAF on June 7 and the three Russian suspensions were announced by Russian federation on July 3rd. The case involving the Greece steepler had already gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Now, the IAAF release on the suspensions doesn't state all the suspensions are new, as it says the athletes "have each recently received" their suspensions, but does this not seem a little bit or maybe even huge PR ploy by the IAAF?

"Look, we're doing so well on the anti-doping front," they brag (as IAAF head Lamine Diack issues a statement that reads in part: "Today's announcements underline the IAAF's continued and unwavering campaign against doping in athletics.") as a bunch of small fish are banned. And then it gets reported worldwide that nine people "were suspended ahead of the London Olympics," when the fact of the matter is four of the nine who got suspended hadn't even competed at all this year. Clearly they weren't going to the Olympics and likely knew of their suspensions a long time ago.

Yes, the IAAF in some ways is being smart in taking advantage of the fact that they have the press's attention for the next few weeks, but presenting this in a way so that CBS news has this as one of its leading stories at 12 noon is disingenuous at best.

The fact of the matter is a man who has a 10-year ban from the sport of track and field for being intricately involved in one of the biggest doping scandals in the history of all sports, Mark Block, is still traveling the world and hanging out with two of the three Americans that won individual gold at the World Championships last year in Carmelia Jeter and Jason Richardson. In my mind, all of the technology in the world isn't going to clean up the sport if Jeter's and Richardson's continued association with Block and Block's continued flaunting of his ban is tolerated.

Below I give you details on the 9 banned people.

The 7 Mid-D/Distance Runners Banned
Abderrahim Goumri
- Morocco - Marathon The 36-year-old has a marathon PR of 2:05.30 and seven times has run under 2:10.00. He's had many top finishes in world marathon majors, including four runner-up finishes. In London, he was second in 2007, third in 2008 and sixth in 2009. In New York, he was second in 2007 and 2008 and fourth in 2010. In Chicago, he was second in 2009. Ran a 63:33 half marathon in January.
Nataliya Tobias - Ukraine - 1,500 meters
The 31-year-old ran her PR of 4:01.08 to win the bronze medal in the 1,500 at the 2008 Olympics. Last year, she ran 4:05 and made the finals of Worlds. 4:08.86i and 8:59.94 indoors this year.
Svetlana Klyuka - Russia - 800 meters
 The 33-year-old hadn't raced this year. Last year, she ran 1:58.03 and was 4th at the Russian Champs. In 2008, she ran 1:56.64 and was 4th in the Olympics. No results this year.
Yevgeniya Zinurova - Russia - 800 meters  - The 24-year-old won European indoors last year and ran 1:58.49 on the year. In 2008, she ran 1:58.04. No results for 2012.
Nailya  Yulamanova
- Russia - Marathon - The 31-year-old had a marathon PR of 2:26:05 and was European champ in 2010. No results in 2012.
Irini Kokkinariou -
Greece - Steeplechase The 31-year-old ran 9:30.72 in 2008 and went out in the heats of the Olympics. Last year, she went out in the heats of World Champs. No results for 2012.
Meryem Erdogan - Turkey
- Long Distance The 22-year-old had  PRs of 15:14.92 for 5,000, 31:44.86  for 10,000 and 71:24 for the half marathon. Ran 9:14 (3k) and 16:04 this year.

Antonina Yefremova - Ukraine - 400 meters
The 31-year-old ran a PR of 50.69 last year and went out in the semis of the World Champs. 51.86 this year.
Inna Eftimova - Bulgaria - Short Sprints
The 24-year-old  has PRs of 11.20 and 22.94. 7.28 indoor 60 this year.

More: *IAAF Release With Links To Two Other Stories *Reuters Story *AP Story *LRC Why Was A Man In The Midst Of A 10-Year Doping Ban Enjoying The 2012 US Olympic Track & Field Trials From The Nike Sky Box? *LRC Guess Who Was In Monaco On Friday? Banned Agent Mark Block

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