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Turkey: Two lifters withdrawn from London Games, doping case


Istanbul, (Today's Zaman): The head of the Youth and Sports Ministry’s Sports General Directorate, Mehmet Baykan, has said Turkey will not make concessions when it comes to performance-enhancing substances and that nothing is being left to chance.
Baykan’s remarks came after two national weightlifters were withdrawn from the Olympic team on suspicion of doping. “Two of our friends were taken out of the team and two others were included to replace them,” he told the Anatolia news agency in London on Thursday.

The director noted that Turkey is making concerted efforts to ensure that sporting activities are taking place fairly and on legitimate grounds. The shortcomings have been fixed, he added.

Baykan, who was appointed to the position last summer by Sports Minister Suat Kılıç, aims to restore the reputation of a Turkish doping laboratory. The license of Ankara-based Hacettepe University Doping Control Center was indefinitely suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency last summer after the lab wrongly labeled four athletes as users of banned substances, including US women basketball star Diana Taurasi. The lab later withdrew its reports regarding the athletes. Baykan said the Sports General Directorate is working for the Hacettepe lab to regain its license before the 2013 Mediterranean Games, to be hosted in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin.

When asked about the allegations that field athlete Meryem Erdoğan tested positive for a banned substance, Baykan said he did not know about the issue and did not wish to focus on it as she is not a part of Turkey’s Olympic team in London. “We campaign for athletes to not engage in doping,” he said.

Meanwhile Sports Minister Kılıç held an iftar (fast-breaking dinner) in London on Thursday ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony the following day. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his wife, Emine Erdoğan, and ministers Sadullah Ergin, Taner Yıldız and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Ömer Çelik were among the attendees at the dinner. Addressing the guests, Kılıç said Turkish Olympians had stated that they are going to keep striving “until the last drop of energy and their last calorie to represent the Turkish flag and Turkish nation by keeping the image of you [the prime minister] in their minds at every moment.”

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