ATHLETES with a proven history of using performance-enhancing drugs will never be welcome at the Edinburgh Marathon, its director has vowed.
And any previous participants who turn out to have been involved in doping will be stripped of their prize money.
Athletics has been at the forefront of controversy recently after a study by a German university suggested systematic and widespread doping.
The study, which was carried out four years ago, was leaked by a newspaper and revealed that hundreds of athletes apparently admitted using banned substances.
American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who has served two drugs bans, has been competing in the ongoing World Championships, raising doubts over the sport’s attitude to drug cheats.
Now the boss of the Edinburgh Marathon has promised that his event will never be tarnished that way.
Neil Kilgour, race director, said: “We have for a number of years retained very strong values at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.
“We know from talking to our runners, they feel it is important that a thread of integrity runs right through the event – we share that philosophy.
“That is why we have a no-compromise approach to any athletes who have cheated their fellow competitors.
“Anyone who lines up at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival can do so with confidence that the race organisers have done everything possible to ensure a clean race on a level playing field for all runners.
“We pay several thousand pounds each year to have testing take place at our events.”
He said he would pursue legal action to recoup prize money paid out to former participants who turned out to be drugs cheats.
He said: “Any athlete with a proven doping history will never, ever be invited to compete at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.
“I would also like to stress that if any participants from previous Edinburgh Marathon Festivals subsequently turn out to have been involved in illegal doping activities, we will immediately strip them of any awards and we will pursue all legal avenues to retrieve any prize money paid and award this to the rightful winner.
“The Edinburgh Marathon Festival is a brilliant event, it is also a clean event. We will do everything in our power to ensure it stays that way.”
A team of academic researchers from the University of Tubingen interviewed hundreds of athletes at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.
Their study concluded that between 29 and 34 per cent of the 1800 competitors had violated anti-doping rules in the previous 12 months.
According to reports, a month after collecting the information, the researchers were told to sign a confidentiality agreement to prevent them speaking out about the admissions.