Friday, August 21, 2015

Clean up athletics for these women

Steph Twell back in action after injuries
Just days remain before the athletics World Championships in Bejing, back in the 'Bird's Nest' you might remmber from the Beijing Olympics. It should be a great celebration but with allegations of doping and hiding doping results coming weekly now, I wonder what the clean athletes are thinking?

I'm writing this listening to Seb Coe, newly-elected head of the IAAF defending and justifying their anti-doping record on the radio. It's all quite sordid, and must be depressing for runners who're out there training even as I chill on the computer.

A line from an old post popped into my head earlier - back in 2010 I did  this interview with British long distance runner Steph Twell.

Click on photo to go to full interview I did for Life and Fitness mag
Speaking about getting over losses, she said to me: "It's like a test of human endeavour, that's what I love." 

That's what competitive sport should be about. We spoke just before she hit a string of nasty injuries which left her out of London2012. How nasty? She fractured her ankle in three places during a Cross-country race in 2011, had to re-learn how to walk and then fractured it again.

Trained by Mick Woods since she was nine, she told me: "This is the beauty of what makes me the athlete I am, it makes me tick. Knowing I have that support and encouragement makes the difference." But even with that, she's had some dark days before hitting her stride again this year and running times she hasn't seen since 2010. 

This week she said in an interview with Athletics Weekly: "On my darkest days I used to question more if I would get back to the times I have run and until last year I probably had reduced my belief, but I have grown as a person in life and now I have learnt what gives me strength."

She tweeted a few days ago from @StefApril : "Blood and urine tested all the way up in the mountains today in Font Romeu 👍 Thanks @ukantidoping for keeping up the integrity of my sport!"

How grim to think Twell and so many other athletes in different disciplines are doing all this, and yet possibly running against women powered by chemical changes. Seb Coe, a 4-time Olympic medallist himself, really must take a hard look in the mirror and ask himself who he is going to represent?

Is he going to stand up for inspiring sports women like Steph Twell? Or is he going to allow the present allegations to continue without investigation?


Vicki said...

I'm not familiar with the rules and regulations, but I don't know how so many athletes get away with this stuff for so long! Don't they have regular testing? It's not right that someone loses to a person who is taking something to increase their speed/endurance.

real girl sport said...

@Vicki - They do have regular testing but it seems the dopers stay ahead of the technology. Some of the people being caught now are caught with "retrospective testing" where their samples were stored until the science to catch the drugs caught up. V unsettling for everyone racing and watching