Athletes in action at the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
News Doha, Qatar

Athletics Integrity Unit announces robust programme and policy updates for IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), in partnership with the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the Qatar Anti-Doping Commission (QADC), will deliver an unprecedented integrity programme during the 10 days of competition, which runs from 27 September to 6 October.

One of the key policy decisions taken by the AIU ahead of the championships is to transfer samples collected from the athletes of the host nation to a laboratory abroad in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest and associated risks. The policy will come in force in Doha and will continue at future editions of the World Championships.

“The IAAF World Athletics Championships is one of the greatest sports events in the world and it is the AIU’s responsibility to ensure fair play,” said AIU Chairman David Howman. “Transferring samples of athletes from the host nation to another World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory is a proactive measure to avoid any perception of conflict. Public confidence in the integrity of a sporting event is paramount and we do not want to leave any stone unturned to ensure this is achieved for the biggest athletics event.

The year 2019 is also the first year of the implementation of the national federations obligations rule (article 15) of the IAAF anti-doping rules, wherein IAAF member federations designated as the highest risk have made sure that athletes selected for the World Championships have gone through the requisite number of out-of-competition tests prior arriving in the Qatari capital. All member federations have also ensured that their athletes have received adequate education prior to arriving in Doha.

Extensive pre-competition testing is already underway. An estimated 700 blood samples will be collected prior to the championships for the purpose of continuing to build the athlete biological passport (ABP) profiles and to help detect prohibited substances such as steroids, EPO or human growth hormone (hGH). An additional 500 samples, mainly urine, will be collected during the championships.

“The implementation of the national federations obligations rule has made sure that the athletes competing in Doha will have gone through an unprecedented level of testing and education,” added Howman. “I must thank the IAAF member federations for having risen to the occasion, in particular those federations which have been initially identified as high-risk category A countries.

“We hope that our initiatives give clean athletes the confidence to go out there and discover how good they really can be. I am very grateful for the support and commitment from the local organising committee and the QADC,” he concluded.

“The QADC is proud to be partners with the AIU in delivering one of the biggest anti-doping programmes in the world this year,” said QADC President Dr Naser Ali Al-Ansari. “We are confident that our qualified team at the QADC will deliver an efficient and robust service during the championships.”

Education and outreach programme

In addition to the enhanced anti-doping testing programme, the AIU with the support from the QADC and the IAAF Athletes’ Commission, have set up an Athletics Integrity Hub as part of a wide-ranging education and outreach programme to engage with athletes and their support personnel and provide them with all the relevant information about the issues that potentially impact the integrity of the sport and the athletes’ careers.

The hub will be operational from 24 September to 4 October at the team hotels. It will focus on creating awareness about the range of integrity issues that impact on athletics such as doping, manipulation of competitions, illegitimate betting practices, bribery and corruption, as well as creating awareness of reporting and redressal mechanisms for issues such as harassment and abuse, including sexual harassment.

Among the features of the education programme are an Athletes’ Integrity Pledge created to help create greater awareness amongst the athletics community of the need to speak up against doping and other forms of misconduct, as well as to help foster a culture of honesty, fair play and respect.

The athletes and other members of the athletics community can contact the AIU staff and board members at the hub to express any concerns they may have.