August 01, 2005

Early Withdrawals … Fearing Penalties?

There's something funny going on at the 2005 world athletics championships. A lot of big stars are pulling out due to illness and injury.

The list of no-shows so far includes:

I don't know if this is an unusually large number of withdrawals, but it seems like it is. I am quite certain that some of the athletes on the list above are genuinely injured or sick. But I still wonder if some of this activity is a reaction to the very agressive anti-doping programme that will be conducted by the IAAF:

The 2005 edition of these World Championships … will see more than 850 tests conducted, … easily the largest testing programme ever conducted at an IAAF World Championships. … Approximately 350 competitors will be blood screened as they enter the athlete’s village, while during the championships themselves, close to 500 tests will be collected … Also in competition, about 100 blood tests will be carried out for the detection of Blood Transfusion, Hemoglobine Based Oxygen Carriers (Hbocs) and other substances.

The competition begins on Saturday.

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