MOSCOW (AP) — Numerous doping cases in track and field may go unpunished because the sport's governing body tested samples after their time limit had expired.
In at least one case, a Russian runner could be allowed to keep her world championship medal even though she tested positive for a banned substance.
The World Anti-Doping Agency said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the IAAF wrongly interpreted a rule change in April 2015 when it decided to retest samples from the 2005 and 2007 world championships. Testers found 28 athletes had tested positive at both championships, but only the samples from 2005 missed the deadline.
The IAAF believed it was able to retest the 2005 samples because the statute of limitations in the WADA code had increased to 10 years in 2015, but WADA said the previous eight-year limit should have been used.
"If the previous eight-year statute of limitations has expired prior to 1 January 2015, it does not extend to 10 years under the 2015 code," WADA spokesman Ben Nichols told the AP.
The IAAF has been under pressure to clean up the sport since a WADA commission report detailed state-supported doping in Russian track and field. The country's track team has since been banned from competition and could miss this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Doping samples from the 2005 worlds in Helsinki stopped being eligible for retesting in 2013, well before the IAAF began its latest round of checks in April 2015.
One athlete who could benefit from the decision is Russian runner Tatyana Andrianova. She was banned by the IAAF in December after the steroid stanozolol was found in a sample from the day she won bronze in the 800 meters at the 2005 worlds. She has already appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Another athlete linked to the retests is Russian hammer thrower Tatyana Beloborodova, who won silver at the 2005 worlds and gold at the 2012 London Olympics. The IAAF confirmed Monday she has been provisionally suspended but refused to comment on reports in Russian state media that this was because of a retested sample from 2005.
Doping cases from the 2007 world championships and earlier retesting of 2005 samples that the IAAF performed in 2013, catching five medal winners, are within the deadline.
"As to the 2005 world championship retests, there is currently an ongoing case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport concerning an appeal by one of the athletes concerned, Tatyana Andrianova," the IAAF said in an e-mailed statement. "The IAAF will not be commenting further until the conclusion of that case."