How good were we?

This week we have been informed of the findings of the investigation into the Russian system of drug testing and sanctioning of their own athletes and generally a whole lot of corruption at the highest level.  

 Basically another disappointing story of cheats in my sport. It makes me so angry - but this is not a new story or a Russian story .

 

Since I started competing on the circuit in 1999 I have heard whispers and had suspicions about athletes I competed against. I personally wish that we could re test samples of athletes from the day dot. In my own career I feel I have lost out many times to cheats. I believe I would have had more medals than I have (especially from indoor championships - European) this is just taking out those athletes who I know have subsequently served a ban from the sport but did not test positive until after the competitions I am thinking of. This would give us clean athletes a bit of closure in ' knowing how good we were on our best days' Let's face it people have cheated in this sport for many years. But not everyone.

I hope that people still believe there are athletes who compete well and run fast times through hard work, discipline and dedication.

Going forward I hope for a cleaner sport and believe on some levels this is already happening. I don't regret being an athlete and have loved being able to compete at the level I did and have the experiences I have had through this amazing sport. I always believed when competing that people were on the same level as myself unless proved otherwise - it was the only way to remain focused and disciplined. Maybe I was silly but being bitter wouldn't have done me any favours.

 

Just an example of how if I took out drug cheats from a race what might have happened 6 years before I actually won a gold.

Madrid European indoors in 2005

 

1st Elena Iagăr Romania 4:03.09 WL

2nd Corina Dumbravean Romania 4:05.88 PB

3rd Hind Dehiba France 4:07.20

4 Helen Clitheroe Great Britain 4:07.5

5 Alesia Turava Belarus 4:08.81

6 Antje Möldner Germany 4:10.83

7 Nuria Fernández Spain 4:12.04

8 Anna Alminova Russia 4:13.89

9 Wioletta Janowska Poland 4:15.71

 

1st,2nd,3rd all subsequently received and served a doping ban. Moment stolen.

 

The next year in 2006 was when I was told I wasn't good enough to be funded for 1500m and that I should switch to steeplechase. In the steeplechase I just missed out on the Olympic final (breaking the British record by 7 seconds in the process) A Russian athlete broke the world record in the final by a long way and in a time that no one has been close to since and also contained others who have been involved in doping stories since the event.

How cool would it be to say you were an Olympic finalist? Moment stolen.

In 2009 I was taken off funding for not being able to be top 8 in the world and then funded myself through to 2011 when I eventually won a European indoor title by a smidge (2nd place Russian was subsequently banned too).

That night me and my roommate Jenny Meadows jumped on our beds celebrating my win, she had come 2nd in the 800m, it was bittersweet as we would have loved to celebrate a double gold. Jenny was upgraded to Gold eventually but that moment was robbed from her and me - disgusting. Moment Stolen.

These are just a couple of examples of how drug cheats have effected me personally. Cheats have cost myself and other clean athletes in many ways, sponsorship, funding and support, places in finals, moments on podium, places in teams when qualification standards are set according to world best times, injuries when we push ourselves harder to try and beat those who are using drugs to enable harder training and quicker recovery- I could go on.

Hopefully now something will happen to make the option of cheating a dangerous choice. Lifetime bans, criminal charges need to be brought to individuals and coaches/teams that are proven to have cheated.

Maybe one day some athlete will prosecute for loss of earnings. Most of us are skint though ! So to go ahead with something like that would be too much of a financial risk for most small time athletes like myself.

Maybe the Rio Olympics will be the cleanest ever. I hope so.

 

Helen