Champion Turkish athletes left out of Med Games squad with doping woes

Champion Turkish athletes left out of Med Games squad with doping woes

Champion Turkish athletes left out of Med Games squad with doping woes

Turkish hurdler Nevin Yanıt and Olympic 1,500-meter champion Aslı Çakır Alptekin (inset) could face further action over the doping accusations. REUTERS photo

The Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) has left its top two runners, doping suspects Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Nevin Yanıt, out of its provisional squad for the Mediterranean Games.

The governing body of Turkey’s track and field announced a 121-strong line-up on April 24 for this summer’s Mediterranean Games, but left out its two star athletes.

Olympic 1,500-meter winner Çakır Alptekin and two-time defending European 110-meter hurdles champion Yanıt will not be participating in the event, which will be hosted in Mersin between June 20 and 30.

Last month, world athletics governing body IAAF informed the TAF that there were abnormalities in Çakır Alptekin’s blood tests and would be requesting a defense from the athlete.

The website Athletics Weekly quoted an IAAF spokesman at the time saying, “It is not the only case from Turkey.”

The TAF did not make an official statement, but the Turkish media reported that the list included Nevin Yanıt.

In a more dramatic twist for Yanıt, by being left out of the squad she will be unable to compete in the stadium that was named after her.

She had said that her main goal in 2013 was to win a gold medal in her hometown Mersin, which will host the Mediterranean Games at the Nevin Yanıt Stadium.

It has been claimed that the 110-meter hurdler had failed a drug test and that a decisive second test is pending.

Çakır Alptekin and Yanıt are among the most successful athletes in Turkish sports history.

Çakır Alptekin led a one-two Turkish finish over fellow compatriot Gamze Bulut in the women’s 1,500-meter final in the 2012 London Games, winning the country’s first ever track and field gold medal in the Olympics.

Yanıt also advanced to the 110-meter hurdles final in London, becoming the first Turk to compete in an Olympic sprint final, finishing fifth. She also won two European titles in 2011 and 2013.

Apart from the duo, Bulut and two-time Olympic silver medalist distance runner Elvan Abeylegesse will lead Turkey’s Mediterranean Games squad.

Men’s middle-distance runners İlham Tanui Özbilen, Tarık Langat Akdağ and Polat Kemboi Arıkan, javelin thrower Fatih Avan, shot putter Hüseyin Atıcı, discus thrower Ercüment Olgun Deniz and hammer thrower Eşref Apak are the other Olympians in the shortlist.

Turkish athletics team head coach Cezmi Or has said the definitive list will be announced by May 5.