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Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Turkish official: Doping cases won't harm 2020 bid

Associated Press

ISTANBUL -- The spate of doping cases in Turkey should help -- rather than harm -- Istanbul's bid for the 2020 Olympics, the head of the country's national Olympic committee said Wednesday.

"The increase in the number of doping cases ... shows that Turkey is fighting doping, and in my opinion, will affect the Olympic bid positively, not negatively," Ugur Erdener said.

The IAAF said Tuesday it "intensified" its drug-testing program in Turkey amid reports of dozens of positive cases in the country. A report in Britain's Daily Telegraph said as many as 30 Turkish athletes tested positive before last month's Mediterranean Games in the Turkish city of Mersin.

The scandals come in the final stages of Turkey's campaign to host the 2020 Games. Istanbul is competing against Madrid and Tokyo, with the IOC vote to be held Sept. 7.

"We are pressing ahead with our efforts to combat doping with tests conducted during and outside of competitions," Erdener, who is also an IOC member, said in a statement to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency. "Our fight has received international approval."

In an email to The Associated Press, President Mehmet Terzi of the Turkish Athletics Federation acknowledged "that there regretfully has been an enormous number of tests with positive results recently" but that "the IAAF is satisfied of our fight against doping."

According to Terzi, "94 percent of these samples were taken in or out of competition tests locally, not at any international events."

Terzi agreed with Erdener that the chances of a successful Istanbul bid are enhanced "when a federation fights against doping and catches own athletes and penalizes them."

Last month, eight Turkish track and field athletes, including 2004 Olympic hammer silver medalist Esref Apak, and eight Turkish weightlifters were caught doping.

In May, Olympic 1,500-meter champion Asli Cakir Alptekin and two-time European 100-meter hurdles champion Nevin Yanit were charged with doping violations.

"If as a country, you are taking the necessary measures against doping and these are known internationally, then (the bid) can't be affected," Erdener said. "My personal opinion is that these incidents won't affect us because every positive test is an indication of the fight against doping."