Doping scandals land blow to Turkish athletics
This file photo shows athletes competing at the 17th Mediterranean Games in Mersin. Turkey’s former Olympic champion was also tested positive for doping use in a case that shocked the nation. DHA photoTurkish athletics has been left reeling by a new doping scandal as Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) Chairman Mehmet Terzi vowed to act against the problem.
Thirteen Turkish athletes were suspected of testing positively for banned substances, the sport’s national governing body announced on June 27. The tally marked an increasing trend after Olympic champion Aslı Çakır Alptekin and European champion Nevin Yanıt were also provisionally left out of the Turkish athletics squad due to doping suspicions in April. It also came after eight weightlifters had tested positive last week.
TAF chairman Mehmet Terzi admitted that 24 athletes were suspected of doping this year. Terzi added that the federation’s battle with doping would continue, claiming that doping figures “will go minimum by September.”
Terzi added that the TAF controls were sufficient, but officials “cannot follow athletes everywhere.”
The chairman added that the TAF will continue investigating coaches, and 20 trainers will testify by the disciplinary boards.
It was announced on June 27 that 13 Turkish athletes had tested positive for doping substances days after similar accusations were made regarding eight Turkish weightlifters.
Five athletes competing in the European Team Championships had previously been accused of doping and the list became longer today with additional names. Eşref Apak, Kaan Şencan, Elif Yıldırım, İsa Can, Umut Aday, Ummuhani Karaçadırlı, Fatih Eryıldırım and Narin Kahraman became the latest athletes to have tested positive for banned substances.
Sports pundit Murat Ağca said that the recent doping claims were worrying.
“All countries have doping problems, but the rate of Turkey’s athletes is concerning,” Ağca told the Habertürk news channel.
Officials called on all athletes on the list to withdraw if they were currently competing in the Mediterranean Games.
If the athletes face punishment following further procedures, Turkey may lose points as a team, after landing in the ninth spot in the European Teams Championship.
Terzi said that he did not intend to step down in the wake of the doping scandal.
“I may retire if I have made huge mistakes,” Terzi, a former national marathon star, said. “But I am a long distance runner. I’m in it for the long haul. It is obvious how much I have been working to carry the Turkish athletics scene to a better place.”
The scandals regarding doping by Turkish athletes have been coming one after the other since Olympic champion Alptekin and European champion Yanıt also faced allegations of doping, though no official confirmation came regarding either of the athletes. The star athletes were also suspended from international competition by the International Association of Athletics Federation.
Eight weightlifters were left off the Turkish national squad ahead of the Mediterranean Games, which started June 20 in Mersin, after testing positive for doping.
The president of Turkey’s Weightlifting Federation, Tamer Taşpınar, put the blame on both athletes and coaches claiming doping use was “an organized act.” “If eight or nine athletes use doping at the same time, there is no chance for the coach not to know it. He knows it, the athlete’s performance gets better, their voice changes...,” Taşpınar said on June 25 according to daily Türkiye.