Turkish Olympic officials say they are cooperating with an international anti-doping investigation that has targeted their athletes and will assist in punishing anyone found to have used performance-enhancing drugs.
"The [National Olympic Committee] of Turkey is taking this matter very seriously and we are urgently reviewing all alleged and any confirmed doping cases involving Turkish athletes," said a statement sent to The Times on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, track and field's international governing body confirmed that rumors of widespread doping in that country had triggered the investigation.
"The IAAF is aware of media speculation surrounding recent anti-doping control tests, in and out of competition, of a number of Turkish athletes," officials said in a statement to Reuters. "Following concerns highlighted by abnormal biological passport values, the IAAF, with the national anti-doping agency, intensified the testing programme in Turkey, the results of which remain ongoing in accordance with IAAF Rules."
The news breaks at a delicate time for Turkish officials as Istanbul bids to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
"The NOC of Turkey and the Turkish government have a zero-tolerance policy on doping in sport and therefore we have been cooperating, and will continue to cooperate, fully with all relevant investigations to resolve these cases as quickly and decisively as possible," the statement said. "The recent doping discoveries have been fully assisted by the Turkish National Anti-doping Agency, who have been working closely with the IAAF and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA)."
The results of the IAAF operation have yet to be made public but a British newspaper reported that numerous Turkish athletes tested positive in advance of the recent
"We're talking about a lot of athletes," a source told the Telegraph. "It could be as many as 30."
If so, Turkey could be thrown out of the track and field championships, which will be held in Moscow in mid-August, the Telegraph reported.
Asli Cakir Alptekin, a gold medalist at the 2012 London Games, heads a list of Turkish athletes who have recently been charged with doping.
Istanbul is one of three finalists for the 2020 Games, along with Tokyo and Madrid. The