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Track and field in turmoil as championships draw near

Track and field in turmoil as championships draw near
A pack of runners is seen during the women's 10,000-meter race at IAAF world championships at Osaka, Japan in 2007. (Kimimasa Mayama / EPA)

With eight days to go before the world championships in Beijing, these are not the best of times for track and field.

The troubles began a few weeks ago with reports by German and English media alleging the sport's international federation had failed to take action on scores of suspicious test results in its database.

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The IAAF denied the allegations but, earlier this week, announced 28 athletes were now suspected of cheating after samples -- stored away for years -- were re-analyzed using improved testing methods.

Though the federation did not identify the athletes, Turkish officials have confirmed that two-time Olympic silver medalist Elvan Abeylegesse is on the list.

Abeylegesse, a naturalized Turkish citizen from Ethiopia, finished second in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She also won silver in the 10,000 at the 2007 world championships.

Her medals might be taken away.

IAAF officials, who retested samples from the 2005 and 2007 world championships, said most of the athletes in question are retired and none were scheduled to compete at the upcoming championships.

The federation is also facing a change in leadership, with longtime president Lamine Diack stepping down next week. Olympic champions Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka are the leading candidates to replace him.

Follow David Wharton on Twitter @LATimesWharton

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