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Turkey suspends 31 track and field athletes for doping 1 month before 2020 Olympic host city vote

Aug 5, 2013, 10:29 AM EDT

Asli Cakir Alptekin Reuters

Turkey’s track and field federation announced two-year drug bans for 31 of its athletes Monday, a news story that bordered an Istanbul 2020 Olympic candidate city panel on its website with the slogan, “Bridge Together.”

The timing for terrible news is certainly not ideal. The nation has been flooded with negative press for months leading into the Sept. 7 vote in Buenos Aires, where the International Olympic Committee will choose from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo for the host of the 2020 Olympics.

The latest setback for Turkey was not surprising. The 31 bans came after reports of massive positive tests from Turkish athletes leading into the Mediterranean Games in June. Five days ago, nine other Turkish track and field athletes received two-year bans.

The list of athletes, which includes the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the men’s hammer throw, can be found on the Turkish track and field website here.

More suspensions could be on the way, including one for the 2012 Olympic champion in the women’s 1,500 meters,¬†Asli Cakir Alptekin. She was provisionally suspended in May through the biological passport program as irregularities were found in her blood levels. She could face a lifetime ban because she’s already served a two-year ban for previous doping.

“The files of Asli Cakir Alptekin, Nevin Yanit and Pinar Saka were not assessed because the process of investigation following their defense statements is continuing,” the federation in the statement on its website.

Turkey’s track and field chairman resigned amid the scandal last week.

Long list of star track and field athletes who won’t compete at world championships

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