LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has released details of a new, transparent system where every stage of the process of dealing with a positive doping test is made public, from the initial failure through to any punishment.
The AIU was set up a year ago as part of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) effort to separate itself from anti-doping and corruption in the sport, and marked its first birthday by revealing details of the 120 cases it has dealt with.
Many of those have been studies in confusion for athletes, federations, fans and media, as conflicting rules of release of information left everyone in the dark.
Often athletes “disappeared” for months or even years, unable to comment on doping speculation, as the process worked its way through, often including appeals.
Recognising the problems this caused for everyone involved, the AIU sought and gained permission from data protection authorities in its Monaco base to change the system.
From now on, every ethics case or doping case involving a serious substance will be published on its website here from the point an athlete's A sample has returned a positive test, with each subsequent step, up to and including sanction and any appeals.
The AIU will send a Twitter alert for each new case.
“The AIU Board decided right from the start that a clear commitment to transparency was fundamental to what we are trying to do,” AIU head Brett Clothier told Reuters.
“We spoke to the IAAF Athletes’ Commission and they are in full agreement with the new system - they were frustrated by the delays we previously saw. The national federations too are fully supportive.”
The AIU’s figures on Friday showed that 103 cases relate to elite level international athletes (collectively the winners of 85 medals at the Olympics and World Athletics Championships), 14 other athletes competing internationally and four officials.
More than 40 of the cases are the result of re-tests of historical samples, while 57 involve Russians.
The list confirmed the positive tests of several well-known athletes, including the first official news that Olympic steeplechase champion and world record holder Ruth Jebet, who runs for Bahrain, is being investigated for the blood booster EPO.
“This is a major change but we are only at the beginning of our mission to restore the reputation of Athletics and there is a lot more work to be done,” Clothier said.
“The current and recent case load reflects the challenge we face as a sport, but also the fact we are willing to take on that challenge and drive cheats out.
“Over the next 12 months I would expect to see more investigative and more non-doping cases. We want to uncover the networks behind doping and then expose them.” (Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge)