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IAAF probing doping allegations against Ma

AP

The IAAF is investigating the authenticity of a two-decade-old letter published in Chinese media that suggests state-sanctioned doping in the 1990s, and casts doubt on the longstanding world records set by Wang Junxia in the women’s 3,000 and 10,000 meters.

Wang’s records could be annulled if the former Olympic and world champion has admitted to doping before setting the marks in 1993, the International Association of Athletics Federations said Friday.

Chinese website Tencent reported that Wang wrote a letter, signed by nine other members of coach Ma Junren’s training program, in 1995 to journalist Zhao Yu allegedly revealing that athletes were forced to take banned substances and Ma injected athletes himself.

“It’s all true that Coach Ma had beaten, verbally abused and mistreated us for years,” said the letter, dated March 28, 1995. “It’s also true that he had coaxed or forced us into using large quantities of banned drugs.

“His crimes must be revealed because we don’t want to see the same thing to happen to the next generation,” according to the letter. “Such inhumane tortures have brought us to the brink of a complete collapse.”

The IAAF issued a statement on Friday saying it only became aware of the allegations when contacted by Chinese media, and has asked the Chinese Athletics Association to assist with an investigation to verify if the letter — which is written in Chinese and which Zhao provided to Tencent this week — is genuine.

“If an athlete has admitted that, at some time prior to achieving a world record, he had used or taken advantage of a substance or technique prohibited at that time, then, subject to the advice of the medical and anti-doping commission, such record will not continue to be regarded as a world record by the IAAF,” the statement said.

The scandal resurfaced this month in China, when social media began heated discussions on doping following a recently-published chapter about Ma’s track team, which was known collectively as “Ma’s Army.”