LONDON (Reuters) - Nine track and field athletes have been handed lengthy bans for doping violations in a crackdown on the use of prohibited substances in the lead up to the London Olympics, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Wednesday.
The athletes, including leading marathon runner Abderrahim Goumri, were all caught with the aid of the Athlete Biological Passport program, which will be used at an Olympics for the first time in London.
"Today's announcements underline the IAAF's continued and unwavering campaign against doping in athletics," IAAF President Lamine Diack said in a statement.
"They demonstrate the IAAF's commitment to use advanced methods to detect doping and to enforce increased sanctions when justified. We will not stint in our resolve to do everything in our power to eradicate cheating."
Three of the offences dated back to the world championships held in Daegu, South Korea last year.
Inna Eftimova of Bulgaria tested positive for synthetic growth hormone, while the samples of Ukrainians Nataliya Tobias and Antonina Yefremova both contained traces of synthetic testosterone. All three were banned for two years.
Moroccan Goumri, who finished third in the London marathon and second in the New York marathon in 2008, was among the six athletes who were monitored after irregularities showed up in their "biological passports".
The others were Russians Svetlana Klyuka, who finished fourth in the 800m at the Beijing Olympics, 2011 European indoor 800m champion Yevgenina Zinurova and Nailiya Yulamanova, along with long distance runners Irini Kokkinariou of Greece and Turkey's Meryem Erdogan.
The three Russians and Erdogan admitted their guilt and were given two-year bans.
Goumri was handed a four-year ban by the Moroccan athletics federation, while the IAAF is looking to enforce a ban of four years on Kokkinariou.
The IAAF's announcement came after the Moroccan favorite for the women's 1,500 meters, Mariem Alaoui Selsouli, was confirmed to have tested positive for a banned diuretic.
Selsouli, a silver medalist at the world indoor championships this year, has already served a two-year suspension for doping and now faces a lifetime ban under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.
WADA said on Tuesday that more than 100 athletes were caught doping and sanctioned in the months leading up to the London Olympics in a drive to eliminate cheats before they reach the Games.
There will be around 6,250 samples analyzed at the Games, more than any other Olympics. There were 20 proven cases of doping at the Beijing Games four years ago, including six horses, down from 26 cases in Athens in 2004.