LONDON (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Friday its Independent Commission will urgently launch an investigation into widespread doping allegations against international athletics.
Yet the organization said it "deplored" the way the blood test data, which has led to the doping allegations, was obtained, leaked to the media and analyzed.
Stressing its determination to protect athletes' confidentiality, WADA added that implications of doping from the data were "irresponsible and potentially libellous" and insisted that some data "could not possibly be considered doping".
The allegations, which have caused turmoil within the sport just weeks before the world championships start in Beijing on Aug. 22, stem from the TV documentary "Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics", released by German broadcaster ARD on Aug. 1.
ARD and Britain's Sunday Times newspaper obtained a leaked database, belonging to athletics' governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.
Their investigations resulted in claims that the data showed more than 800 athletes had suspicious results which were not followed up by the IAAF.
The governing body strenuously rejected that they had turned a blind eye to doping, describing the allegations as "sensationalist and confusing".
WADA have now backed the IAAF, while criticizing the TV and newspaper investigation.
"WADA deplores the manner in which this data was obtained, leaked to the media and analyzed," WADA president Craig Reedie said on Friday.
"To suggest or imply doping with respect to any athlete whose data is contained within the database is, at the very least, irresponsible and potentially libellous.
"WADA is committed to protecting the confidentiality of athletes; and, therefore, has asked its Independent Commission to commence its investigation with urgency.
"We are confident that the IAAF, which has formally agreed to full cooperation with the Commission, is equally committed.
"I ask that any athlete, or anti-doping organization, concerned that their rights are being eroded or inappropriately challenged refer those concerns to the Commission, which intends to commence its work immediately."
WADA Director General David Howman added: "A portion of the data within the database pre-dates the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), which was introduced in 2009.
"This data could not possibly be considered doping, legally or otherwise.
"In addition, atypical blood data, which may be within this database from 2009 – 2012, is not necessarily indicative of doping."
(Writing by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)