Giuseppe Fischetto

Doping

IAAF Anti-Doping Delegate burdened by credibility issues

Giuseppe Fischetto's job is to ensure clean and credible medals at the IAAF World Championships in London. The problem is that the Italian doctor has a credibility issue himself. The IAAF Anti-Doping Delegate kept one of the biggest doping scandals in track and field under wraps. 

Hajo Seppelt and Sebastian Münster

The trigger was a large volume of data given to the ARD by a whistleblower in 2015. It contains the blood values of innumerable athletes, some of which are highly suspicious. Fischetto kept a record of this data for many years - secretly. Only a small circle in the world athletics association was in the picture.

For the Australian blood doping expert, Michael Ashenden, who analysed the data for the ARD in 2015, only one conclusion can be drawn from these blood values: "From the values in the database there's no question in my mind that athletics world championships and olympic discipline events have been contaminated by blood doping. Some of the results were simply grotesque. In their extrimity they were quite easily the worst I've ever seen", the blood doping expert remarked already in 2015.

A conspicuously large number of the suspicious values came from Turkish and, above all, from Russian athletes. Their anonymised publication by the ARD Doping Editorial Team and the British newspaper Sunday Times provoked a tremendous response in the media worldwide in 2015.  

What was hardly mentioned in the public debate at the time: The data originally came from a hard drive belonging to Fischetto. As an IAAF official, he had access to the blood values of athletes from numerous countries. At the same time, the physician was also an official of the Italian federation and maintained good relations with Russia - long before the state-sponsored doping system there became public. Fischetto's conflict of interests was obvious. 

Fischetto was aware that the blood values were an explosive issue. He sought to hush up the evidently widespread doping practice in track and field events. This is confirmed by telephone recordings from the Italian authorities from 2013. These are conversations Fischetto had with people from his close circle of acquaintances. 

"I hope this doesn't seep through, otherwise there will be a huge international fiasco. Just imagine if the Russians' data is exposed or the data of the Turks or the others", was Fischetto’s comment in the phone call. "After all, I'm in the IAAF Commission."

One things is clear: Fischetto had no interest in triggering a debate on the highly suspicious blood values of numerous athletes - even though he was one of the IAAF's leading anti-doping officials at the time. Fischetto was repeatedly appointed as an anti-doping delegate by the world athletics association - for instance at the World Cup 2015 in Beijing and at the Race Walking World Cup 2016 in Rome. 

In the telephone recordings, Fischetto made no secret of the fact that at the time he had the backing of the former IAAF President Lamine Diack. "He supports me in every possible way and says I should continue as I'm doing", said the Italian.

Lamine Diack was later accused of corruption in connection also with the cover-up of doping cases. The French authorities are still investigating. 

The restraint and neutrality expected of an IAAF official in doping cases was particularly missing in the case of the Italian walker Alex Schwazer. In the 2013 telephone recordings, Fischetto mentioned the South Tyrolian man who tested positive for doping substances in his urine in 2012 and once again four years later. If the undercover telephone recordings are anything to go by, IAAF official Fischetto wished the athlete from South Tyrol (where German is the preferred language) no good: "This German Italian has got to be eliminated."

The quoted telephone recordings have already been published by the Italian media. However, so far this has had no consequences for the alleged anti-doping fighter, Giuseppe Fischetto, even though his attitude is well known to the world athletics association. Also at the current World Championships in London, the IAAF again employed him as the Anti-Doping Delegate for the competitions in the Olympic Stadium. 

At the ARD's inquiry, the IAAF justified its decision. In the world association's view, there is no question about Fischetto's integrity and professionalism. Moreover, the Italian National Olympic Committee could find no fault in the functionary's behaviour. As for Fischetto, he did not respond to the ARD's questions.

The IAAF's approach raises doubts about its anti-doping course. The world association continues to hold firmly to the doctor as IAAF Anti-Doping Delegate.

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Das Erste | Leichtathletik-WM 2017 London | 11.08.2017 | 14:03 Uhr

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