Turkish Athletics head steps down amid doping scandal
The Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) chairman Mehmet Terzi has stepped down in the wake of a series of damaging doping scandals that have hit the sport. DHA photoThe Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) chairman Mehmet Terzi has stepped down in the wake of a series of damaging doping scandals that have hit the sport.
Terzi announced that he was quitting the post after nine years with a statement released on the TAF website.
“Thanks to the board members for the support they have showed to me, but I thought it would be right that I step down,” Terzi said in a letter. “I am leaving the post I have been holding for nine years.”
A former gold medal-winning marathon runner, Mehmet Terzi has been leading the TAF since December 2004.
During his nine-year spell, Turkish athletics have enjoyed unprecedented highs, as well as devastating lows.
“[In the last nine years] Our athletes have claimed important achievements, won medals, championships,” Terzi said, before mentioning the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games medals.
In 2008 Beijing, Elvan Abeylegesse won silver medals in the women’s 5,000m and 10,000m, marking a first time that Turkey had a podium finish in running events in the Games. Last year, Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Gamze Bulut enjoyed a one-two finish in women’s 1,500m final to mark a historic moment in Turkish sports. Çakır Alptekin’s gold medal in London was Turkey’s first-ever gold medal in track and field.
However, Çakır Alptekin, who was provisionally suspended from competitions due to “abnormalities found in her blood passport,” was among the series of Turkish athletes that were facing doping charges.
Most recently, sport’s world governing body IAAF suspended nine Turkish track and field athletes to add to the sport’s woes.
Since the start of the year, at least 19 athletes tested positive for banned substances.
“As the executive board, we knew that this growth in athletics would bring some problems,” Terzi said. “One of our concerns was the rising competition, high bonuses and similar motivations leading athletes to use banned performance enhancers.”
“Unfortunately, it is a fact that so many anti-doping crimes were committed outside my and technical staff’s control,” Terzi said, highlighting that the number of positive tests was only 12 last year.
“I want you to know that I am proud of the point Turkish athletics will reach,” Terzi said. “I hope and wish that the president and his staff that will carry the flag after me will take Turkish athletics one step forward.”