Athletics

European athletics body steps up against doping cheats

Blood and urine samples of the continent's record-holders to be stored for at least 10 years

Blood and urine samples from athletes who set European records will be stored for a minimum of 10 years in the sport's latest attempt to stamp out drug cheats, the head of European athletics said yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"We don't want cheats to ever feel that they got away with something and that they are safe because they were not caught immediately," said Svein Arne Hansen.

The Norwegian, who last week set up a task force to examine the credibility of records set in European athletics, said high on his list of priorities is "cleaning up the mess" and preventing "these types of problems" in the future.

Russian athletes are banned from competing because of state-sponsored doping.

The International Olympic Committee stores samples it takes during Games for 10 years, but Europe's governing body had not operated such a policy.

JOLT FOR BOLT

Last week, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt learnt that he would lose one of his nine Olympic gold medals because relay teammate Nesta Carter tested positive for a banned substance.

Hansen told delegates at a forum staged by the Sport Integrity Global Alliance in London that the cases of doping in his sport in recent years had hurt him personally.

He said: "The situation is discouraging and as more accusations surface and are confirmed, it hurts every time."

Hansen said the sport's global governing body, the IAAF, had been right to issue Russia with a blanket ban, despite the protests of those Russian athletes who had never tested positive for a banned substance.

"I am well aware of the complaints and the controversy," Hansen said.

"But it was the system that let them (Russian athletes) down and we had to meet our responsibility to ensure that all the participants from more than 200 countries were competing on a level playing field.

"The IAAF did the right thing. We did the only thing we could do and still remain true to our sport, to its values and to the athletes.

"And it is extremely important that other sports and other sports organisations follow our lead, learn from what we have done, and act - not just talk - but act accordingly." - REUTERS

dopingUsain Bolt