Blood test leak: 29% of London Marathon winners may have doped

Getty Images

A Sunday Times report released yesterday (9th August) has claimed that almost 30% of London Marathon winners since 2003 may have doped to improve their performance. Seven winners of the men's and women's races over the last 12 years recorded suspicious blood scores, revealed by last week's leak of 12,000 blood test results from 5,000 athletes.

The report analysed results of six major marathon events: London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo. It claimed that one in four winners of these races in recent years should have been investigated or banned for doping.

This follows on from last week's report that Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova, who won the London Marathon in 2010, had been banned for doping offences. Shobukhova has had her marathon titles invalidated and will have to repay prize money.

London Marathon chief executive Nick Bitel has released a statement declaring "a zero tolerance policy towards doping," and emphasising their focus on anti-doping measures.

"The London Marathon pays for testing to take place at the event every year. However, we are not responsible for administering the tests – that is done by the UK Anti Doping Agency.  The London Marathon has spent tens of thousands of pounds on testing athletes and supporting the development of anti-doping measures over the years."

"Athletes who record a positive test with a penalty of more than three months are banned for life from the event," Bitel stated.

The IAAF has rejected the allegations as "sensationalist and confusing" and criticised the anti-doping scientists who analysed the leaked results, stating that they had no knowledge of the sanctions or reviews the IAAF had undertaken in response to their findings.

Nicole Sapstead, chief executive of UK Anti-Doping, warned that the lack of context in the data means athletes could be wrongly accused of cheating. "You can't just look at anonymous data in isolation. You have to look at it in context."

"You have to look at whether that data was collected when an athlete was at altitude, after they competed, after they were training, whether they had a medical condition that might justify some of those results," Sapstead told BBC Radio 5 live.

UKAD is responsible for collecting samples and delivering them to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited lab. Any athlete (whether from the UK or not) who is competing, training or staying in the UK is eligible for testing.