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The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has said that it is investigating a letter alleging historic state-backed doping in Chinese athletics.
The alleged letter was apparently written and sent to a journalist by Chinese World and Olympic medalist Wang Junxia in 1995, but only published by Chinese media this week.
The IAAF said it was aware of the letter and it is now trying to confirm the origins of the letter and if it is genuine.
"The IAAF's first action must be to verify that the letter is genuine. In this respect, the IAAF has asked the Chinese Athletics Association to assist it in that process," the association said in a statement.
The investigation could see Irish athlete Sonia O’Sullivan awarded two World Championship gold medals, if the Chinese athletes are found guilty.
In the 1993 World Championships, O’Sullivan came fourth in the 3000m and took silver in the 1500m, with only Chinese competitors finishing ahead of her in both races.
Chinese news outlet Tencent Sport published a series of reports on Wednesday on the doping allegations, which were then covered widely in state media.
The reports included the letter apparently from Wang, with nine other signatories, alleging that Chinese runners trained under Ma Junren, or “Ma’s army” as they were known, had drugs pushed on them throughout the 1990s.
The IAAF said that under federation rules any athlete who admits to taking a prohibited substance prior to achieving a world record could be stripped of his or her title.