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Bad Blood

Drugs testing

The other Sunday this correspondent headed to the local café with a hangover & the Sunday Times. Upon arrival your correspondent ordered his usual (breakfast of bacon, egg & chips) and sat down with a cup of tea to read what Rod Liddle & Cormac Lucey had to say in the Sports & Business sections respectively. After reading both and perusing the rest of the articles, your correspondent picked up the main paper and started to have a look through it.

Towards the back of the paper, this correspondent came across five articles on three pages all dealing with the same theme, the fall-out from the Sunday Times obtaining I.A.A.F’s (Governing Body of World Athletics) blood test data, and reporting that 800 athletes and a third of all medallists at the Olympics & World Championships from 2001-2012 had suspicious blood test results.

The first article concerned the middle-distance runner Mo Farah. His response to the Sunday Times obtaining the blood test data was to ask them to publish his blood test results. Those results showed him to have no suspicious blood scores when tested (N.B. a blood score or off-score is the relationship between mature red blood cells ((Haemoglobin)) & immature red blood cells ((Reticulocytes)); a suspicious blood score or off-score is when the relationship between these two different red blood cells ends up outside the normal parameters; normal parameters for men are scores between 55-118; for women it is scores between 40-102)

The second article concerned the middle-distance female runner Jo Pavey. Her response to the Sunday Times obtaining the blood test data was to also ask them to publish her blood test results. She also had no suspicious blood scores when tested. She was asked how she felt at looking at a picture of herself running alongside the Russian Liliya Shobukhova (an athlete who had produced a suspicious blood score in 2005 when tested by the I.A.A.F) in 2006 European Championships 5,000m final in Gothenburg, (Pavey was in the lead with a lap to go but finished fourth to Shobuhhova & two other athletes) “I couldn’t have tried any harder and I came fourth. Then later you hear Shobukhova is a cheat, it’s really, really disappointing”. Her husband and coach Gavin is less diplomatic when asked the same question “It makes my blood Boil”.

The third story dealt with Liliya Shobukhova (a previous middle distance runner who stepped up to run marathons) and her blood test results. In 2005 when she won the European Cup 5,000m in Florence she had an off-score (blood score) of 127; the following year at the World Championships in Helsinki she had an off-score of 135 (a score that represents a level of thickening in the blood that can be fatal); when she won the Chicago marathon in 2009 her off-score (blood score) soared to 153; at the end of 2011 when she won her third consecutive Chicago marathon her off-score (blood score) had further increased to 156.

We are told that in April 2014 Shobukhova was banned for two years by her own federation for these abnormal off-scores (blood scores); but we are also informed that it took till a few days ago for Shobukhova to be stripped of all her Marathon titles from 2009 and banned for three years by the I.A.A.F for these abnormal off-scores (blood scores).

The fourth story concerned the views of the retired athlete Roger Black on athletics publishing blood test data. His response is that he is in favour of athletes publishing their blood test results. In the middle of reading the fifth story concerning Seb Coe (previous Olympic middle-distance Gold medallist; Vice-President of I.A.A.F & candidate for up-coming I.A.A.F Presidency) probably being asked to a parliamentary hearing on the findings in the Sunday Times newspaper investigation this autumn, your correspondent came across the most interesting of responses to the information being published.

Seb’s response to the Sunday Times reporting 800 athletes and a third of all medallists who competed in the Olympics & World championships from 2001-2012 having suspicious blood scores was to say it was a declaration of war on athletics.

By the reporting of suspicious blood scores in athletics, the Sunday Times has announced a fight with the sport, according to Seb. If they had not (reported the suspicious blood scores), there would be no fight between Seb & the Sunday Times and relations would be calmer between the two, but there would also have been no opportunity for Mo Farah & Jo Pavey to show they had no suspicious blood scores.

There would also have been no opportunity for your correspondent & fellow Times readers to learn about Liliya Shobukhova and her suspicious blood scores.

That is suspicious to this correspondent.


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