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Athletics In First Ever Drugs Storm - Er, Hardly!

10/08/2015 12:30 BST | Updated 06/08/2016 10:59 BST

August 2015, and the Sunday Times newspaper has run a big story, claiming that a database of blood tests from over 12,000 athletes shows 5,000 results which are suspicious. So, is this the first drugs crisis to hit athletics..?

Hardly.

We have multi dope failer Justin Gatlin destroying fields in the current season, alongside fellow failers Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.

Let's not forget Marion Jones, all American hero, who fiercely denied all claims against her, but ended up going to jail after admitting she had lied to a federal court.

Oh, then there's Ben Johnson, who took the 100m gold a the 1988 Olympics. He also denied everything, only to admit it eventually. There's that iconic photo of a beaten Carl Lewis staring at Johnson as he crosses the line, although Lewis himself was so cocky he was always going to be in the crosshairs of drugs claims himself.

In fact, why don't we go back to the days of the Eastern European bloc countries, as East German women smashed world records, some of which ludicrously still stand today, after a full on regime of athlete doping.

I say 'go back' to the days of the Eastern Europeans, but if we whip back to today, the Russians are not exactly squeaky clean - with many athletes being caught and banned, and many more under suspicion.

Oh dear, oh dearie me!

Seb Coe, who is standing to be President of the IAAF, says it's a 'declaration of war' against his sport, and that the findings should either be handed over, or people should shut up about it.

He is treading a fine line here. On the one hand he is right when he says that athletics has made huge leaps forwards, that it does as much testing as any other sport, if not more, and that the number of positive tests and bans shows that the more robust systems are working.

That's all well and good, but it doesn't address the problem that the increase in positive tests and bans has a massive impact on the perception of the sport - that any athlete who breaks a world record, or improves their performance 'must be' on drugs.

At the very least it means that people will take an attitude of 'no surprise' if winners turn out to be cheaters in the future.

I've written before that I won't watch any meeting which features Gatlin, and it's the short length of bans which also causes a massive perception problem - even if caught the athletes can still be at the next Olympics - how can *that* be right?

It could be that the big 'exclusive' from the Sunday Times about these 5,000 readings turns out to be nothing more than bluster, but what strikes me is that general sense of 'oh well, no surprise there' - that's a massive problem. It's a problem that has been brewing steadily for 30 years, and it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon.

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