Documents uncovered by the Associated Press show the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) warned Russian athletics chiefs in 2009 that the blood levels of their athletes were “putting their health and even their own lives in very serious danger”.
The 2009 letter from the IAAF to Valentin Balakhnichev, then the president of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (Araf), said results from tests at that year’s World Championships in Berlin were “startling”.
Balakhnichev was banned for life last week for breaching anti-doping violations.
On Thursday, a World Anti-Doping Authority (Wada) independent report is expected to reveal details of the IAAF’s alleged complicity in covering up doping in the sport.
The first part of the report, published in November, led to Russia’s athletes being banned from international competition because of ”state-sponsored doping.
Russia won 13 medals at the 2009 event, but its athletes recorded “some of the highest values ever seen since the IAAF started testing”, said the letter, written by the IAAF’s general secretary Pierre Weiss.
The results “strongly suggest a systematic abuse of blood doping or EPO products”, Weiss wrote.
The correspondence took place before the IAAF introduced the blood blood passport, which monitors abnormal results over a longer period of time to identify and ban cheats.
At that time, the results on their own were not enough to sanction athletes and it was down to the country’s own anti-doping authorities to tackle cheats.