So, how many more athletes have to miss out on their day in the sun?
- Credit: PA
Athletics should be the purest form of sport on the planet.
Human versus human, body against body, the ultimate challenge. For me only tennis comes close to the requirements of a world class athlete.
No engines to assist you and, apart from the relay, no team-mates to see you through.
Money can’t buy you success... It can’t buy you fitness, mental strength or willpower.
The purest form of sport... Or is it?
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British Olympic athlete Kelly Sotherton may not agree.
The Isle of Wight star, who won gold in the heptathlon in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, has been upgraded to an Olympic bronze medal in the Beijing heptathlon after previously being upgraded to a bronze in the 4x400m relay, also in Beijing, after retrospective drug tests on some of her competitors.
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I’m not going to give a single column inch to the athletes that failed those tests, rather than to say what mixed emotions you have to have for Sotherton, who has spent her career training fair, playing hard and giving it 100% throughout.
Yet, now, not once, but on two occasions, on the biggest stage of all and in the biggest sporting event on Planet Earth, she has been cheated out of her rightful place on an Olympic podium.
Sotherton retired five years ago after failing to recover from a back problem in time to qualify for the heptathlon at London 2012.
After finding out she was to now become a three-time Olympic medallist, Sotherton posted an emotional video on social media showing her reaction.
“Yes I had tears. Happy ones this time,” she said.
But this is far from satisfactory.
While Sotherton is respectfully happy to receive the medals, the day in the sun she should have enjoyed, the photographs to adorn her family home of her beaming on an Olympic rostrum, are not there.
It’s a travesty and the sport of athletics needs to sort itself out.
It’s not just athletes who have been cheated out of a medal.
Take former UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins, who oversaw the 2008 Games. His contract was not renewed after Britain fell one short of their medal target in Beijing.
“It’s great to see but clearly it’s a disappointment they didn’t get their day in the sun,” he said.
“It’s great to see the teams getting recognition late, because it’s better late than never. But by gosh, it would have been a lot better at the time.”
You are not wrong Mr Collins. It would have been a lot better at the time.
However, with the dreaded word ‘money’ now acting as a bigger and bigger carrot for success in athletics, temptation continues to grow and athletes like Kelly Sotherton will continue to lose out.
The sport has made big inroads into catching drug cheats.
But there is a long way to go.
Another FA Cup final, but my Gooner pal Pete is still not convinced about Arsene Wenger.
I don’t know what Arsene has to do to win over the Gunners’ fans – ‘quit’, Pete says!
I know it’s all about winning the title these days, but come on? Only one side can do that. Are Arsenal really that rubbish?
For me, it would be much nicer if an English club actually crashed in on the Spanish/German Champions League party which at the moment they are enjoying almost exclusively, instead of worrying about knocking ten bells out of each other in the Premier League.
In fact, if the Premier League is so good, why aren’t English clubs dominating Europe?
I don’t think Wenger is doing such a bad job.
I could certainly think of a few clubs who would swap Arsenal’s recent decade-long trophy success with their own – yes, and that does include my Woodbridge U18s.
I don’t know what’s the matter with former tennis great Ilie Nastase.
His recent rantings at the Federation Cup match between Romania and Britain represented the behaviour of a mad man if you ask me.
Not only did he upset Johanna Konta to the point where she cried on court, he had a go at the British Press and then made a disparaging remark about Serena Williams’ unborn child.
Romanian Tennis Federation president George Cosac defended him though.
“That’s Nastase. He was all the time with a lot of jokes. That’s why everybody likes him.”
Not everybody George, not everybody.