Athletics: More than 300 professional road runners in new anti-doping programme

PARIS (AFP) – More than 300 professional road runners will be subject to a new anti-doping programme, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced on Tuesday (Sept 1) as marathons resume in a season badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The AIU said there would be an overall “Registered Testing Pool” of 305 athletes, the vast majority from Kenya and Ethiopia.

The top 40 runners (20 male and 20 female) will be tested in accordance with an advanced intelligence-led testing programme that is appropriate to their 2020 racing calendar, the AIU said.

The remaining 265 athletes will be subject mainly to group testing specifically for the purpose of establishing their Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) profile, ahead of target testing in 2021.

“This approach is a practical response to the unique circumstances we currently face with regards to road running,” said AIU head Brett Clothier.

“There was clear feedback from the key stakeholders, that, despite the financial difficulties, the sport does not want to raise the white flag on anti-doping and when the sport does return to a more normal level of competition in the future, it should be with a strong integrity platform still in place.”

The expansion of the AIU programme has been funded with contributions from other key stakeholders of the road running community: the organisers of all “Label” races, athlete representatives and shoe companies – Asics, Adidas and Nike have all pitched in.

World Athletics’ 2020 road running season, which has seen the cancellations of the New York, Berlin and Paris marathons, will recommence this month with an extensive international calendar of Label Races to be held through until the end of the year.

The schedule begins with the Vidovdanska Trka 10km in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bronze Label) on Sept 6 and still features the London Marathon (Platinum Label) on Oct 4, when world record holder Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya goes up against Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele.

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