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Ray Toh / Doha News

IAAF Diamond League opener 2016

Qatari Olympic high jumper Mutaz Barshim will be among several star athletes competing in the 2017 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha next month.

The event opens on May 5 at 6pm at the Qatar Sports Club, and includes both men and women’s races, as well as pole vault, shot put and other events.

Here’s the full schedule.

Barshim, who won Qatar’s first silver medal at the Rio Olympics, is one of 13 Qatari athletes who will compete in the season opener.

They will be joined by a host of world-class athletes from around the world, including:

  • Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who will be competing in the 200m;
  • Three-time world champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who will run the men’s 1,500m; and
  • The “fastest man in Asia,” Nigeria’s Femi Ogunde, who will run the 100m.

If you’d like to see the stars in action, tickets for the event are on sale now online. Prices start at QR40 per person.

Home turf

In a statement, Barshim said that he is excited to appear in front of a home crowd during one of his first competitions of the season.

Mutaz Barshim/Twitter

Mutaz Barshim

“Competing at home makes it very special. It is such a great thing, a great atmosphere, especially in Doha,” he said.

However, the 25-year-old added that his “main focus” this season is the World Championships in London in August, where he’s hoping to win his first ever gold medal.

Qatar’s team

Thirteen Qatari athletes will compete at the meeting in all, including fellow Olympians Ahmed Bedeer in the javelin and sprinter Femi Ogunode in the 100m.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Ahmed Badeer

Qatar is also fielding some new talent at the event, with both 22-year-old Abdulrahman Samba and 19-year-old Mohamed Shaib competing in the 400m hurdles.

Samba, an Aspire Academy graduate, came first at the Sasol-NWU International athletics meeting in March in South Africa with a time of 48.31 seconds. So hopes are high that the 22-year-old will do well in Doha.

Do you plan to check out the competition? Thoughts?

Qatar considers legal action over French newspaper allegations

The Qatar Athletics Federation is “considering” legal action against a French newspaper after it published claims that the organization paid close to $3.5 million to a company headed by Papa Massata Diack, the disgraced son of the former IAAF president, Lamine Diack.

In a statement, the federation said it had “no knowledge or involvement” of the money that Le Monde said had been paid to the firm in 2011 – just days before Qatar’s failed bid to host the 2017 World Championships, AFP reported.

Musaab Balla

IAAF/Getty

Musaeb Balla

Updated on June 23 with information about the athletes’ court hearing.

Qatari athlete Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla has reportedly been arrested by Spanish police as part of an ongoing investigation into sports doping.

The runner, who became the first national to reach the finals of the  International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last year, was detained by police, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported in a story that was tweeted by the anti-doping agency AEPSAD.

Sudanese-born Balla, 27, came sixth in the 800-meter track event at the World Championships in Beijing last summer.

He appeared in court in Sabadell outside Barcelona on Wednesday to face accusations of trafficking and supply of doping substances, the newspaper added, citing police sources.

He is the third person to be arrested in the anti-doping investigation dubbed “Operation Rial,” following the arrest on Sunday of Somalian coach Jama Aden and Moroccan physiotherapist Ouarid Mounir.

All three men were expected to attend the court hearing.

UPDATE: Following the hearing on June 23, El Pais reported that the three men were released on bail but ordered to surrender their passports and to report to the court every month.

Lawyers for the men are planning to appeal the court’s decision, the paper added.

However, a Facebook post purportedly from Aden’s family and which has been shared on social media, said Aden and Balla had been released without charge.

Police raid

AEPSAD confirmed reports in the Spanish media that the drug EPO had been found in Aden’s Sabadell hotel room following a police raid, the BBC said.

Aden is the coach of  Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, who is tipped to win gold at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Genzebe Dibabe in 2013

Peter Iowe/Flickr

Genzebe Dibabe in 2013

The IAAF issued a statement earlier this week following Sunday’s raid.

“(Aden’s arrest) follows a lengthy investigation by the IAAF which began in 2013, working in close cooperation with Interpol, the Spanish authorities including the Spanish National Anti-Doping Agency (AEPSAD), Spanish police and other organisations.

“The IAAF will use all available resources and powers to protect clean athletes and the integrity of our sport. This includes targeting and investigating individuals and coaches who are intent on exploiting athletes and promoting the use of prohibited substances,” it said.

The Qatar Olympic Committee was unavailable to comment.

Thoughts?