Athletics: Turkish champions face doping charges

Olympic 1500m track champion Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey has been charged with doping and could be stripped of her gold medal.

Alptekin had abnormal blood values in her biological passport, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said yesterday. The passport system tracks variations in an athlete's blood profile for signs of cheating.

Another female Turkish athlete, hurdler Nevin Yanit, was also charged with doping violations and could lose her European indoor title. Yanit had "multiple positive findings following target tests carried out in competition and out of competition" by track and field's governing body, Davies said. Both cases have been referred to the Turkish Athletic Federation. Pending a verdict, both athletes are suspended from competition.

"If they are convicted, they will be stripped of those medals," Davies said. "For now though, they are just stopped from running until the legal process is completed."

Alptekin also could face a life ban for a second offence. She served a two-year suspension for doping after the 2004 world junior championships.

Alptekin finished ahead of team-mate Gamze Bulut to win the gold medal in London in 4m 10.23s.

If Alptekin is stripped of the victory, Bulut would stand to be upgraded to the gold. Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain was third and Tatyana Tomashova of Russia fourth.

Yanit, a two-time European champion in the outdoor 100m hurdles, won the 60m hurdles gold at the European indoors in Goteborg, Sweden, in March in 7.89s. Alina Talay of Belarus was second, followed by Veronica Borsi of Italy and Derval O'Rourke of Ireland. Yanit finished fifth in the London Olympics 100m hurdles final.

The doping scandal comes as Istanbul is bidding for the 2020 Olympics, competing against Tokyo and Madrid. The International Olympic Committee will select the host on September 7.

Ugur Erdener, president of the Turkish Olympic Committee, said the IOC can be "totally assured" of the country's adherence to World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

"We fully support all authorities in this ongoing investigation," Erdener said. "Doping is a major global issue. Turkey is ready to fulfil its responsibilities in helping to eradicate it from world sport."

- AP

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