The women's 1500m Olympic champion, Cakir Alptekin, faces a second potential ban from sport after blood "abnormalities" were discovered during her biological passport testing, the International Association of Athletics Federations confirmed on Friday.
Alptekin, who represented Turkey at the London 2012 Games and won the gold medal ahead of her compatriot Gamze Bulut, received a two-year track ban in 2004 following a positive test at the World Junior Championships. If the current blood sample is confirmed as positive in two weeks' time, as expected, then she could face a lifetime ban from athletics.
Suspicions were raised immediately after the 1500m final by the British athlete Lisa Dobriskey, who finished 10th in the race. "I'll probably get into trouble for saying this but I don't believe I'm competing on a level playing field," she said. "Of course I am uncomfortable about it. I am not pointing the finger at particular individuals but that is how I feel. I think the blood passport is catching people but I think these Games came too soon. People will be caught eventually, I think. Fingers crossed anyway."
Alptekin, 27, finished in 4min 10.23sec in London, 20 seconds off world record pace, having also won her semi-final. Second-placed Bulut finished more than three tenths of a second ahead of the bronze medallist, Maryam Yusuf Jamal, from Bahrain.
After winning gold Alptekin claimed it was "Turkish power" that led to the one-two in the 1500m but the IAAF confirmed on Friday that there are a number of cases being investigated in relation to Turkish athletes.
"It's a biological passport case. It's not finalised yet but we know it's a positive case," a spokesman said. "Immediately after the London Olympic Games we discovered abnormalities. We have seen big abnormalities and it is not the only case from Turkey. More are coming."
The World Anti-Doping Agency would not comment on the case when approached, despite earlier reports claiming that it had confirmed Alptekin as one of eight athletes who had recently been found guilty of a positive test.
Also under suspicion by the IAAF is the European 100m hurdles champion, Nevin Yanit, 27, who finished fifth in the final at London 2012. Yanit, also Turkish, won gold in Helsinki last year and also triumphed at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg earlier this month.
Biological passports work by creating individual blood profiles for each athlete, instead of testing for specific, performance-enhancing drugs. If an athlete's records deviate from previous records and set parameters over time, that can be enough to open a doping case.
Two athletes who won medals at the London Games have already been stripped of their titles following positive drug tests. The Belarusian shot-putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk won gold with a throw of 21.36m but tested for metenolone in a urine sample. Soslan Tigiev, a freestyle wrestler from Uzbekistan who took the bronze in the 74kg category, was also stripped of his medal after testing positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine.
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