Suffolk athletics legend, Bill Tancred MBE, gives his thoughts on Russian doping scandal

Bill Tancred

Bill Tancred - Credit: Archant

Former Suffolk Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Bill Tancred has called for any Russian drug cheats to be banned, but believes the issue of doping in athletics may run further afield.

An independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed on Monday, among many serious allegations, that more than 1,400 samples were “intentionally and maliciously” destroyed by a Moscow laboratory in a bid to cover up doping.

Russia’s track and field athletes won seven gold medals at the London 2012 Games, while Newmarket’s Goldie Sayers, who came fourth in the women’s javelin at the 2008 Games, could be in line to be promoted to bronze medalist – Maria Abakumova’s silver medal now coming under suspicion, although there is no evidence she cheated.

Sayers tweeted: “4th at the Beijing Olympics (finishing behind a Russian). Today, I can conceivably think of myself as an Olympic medallist.”

New IAAF president Lord Coe has recommended the exclusion of Russia from Rio 2016, and while Tancred agrees, he believes the issue could be much bigger still.

“Lord Coe has a lot of work to do, it won’t be a quick fix, but he has got to get to grips with things ASAP,” he said.

“All athletes caught and proved to have cheated should be banned, but I don’t just think it’s the Russians that have done it. I think other countries could be involved.

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“Banning Russia from the Olympic Games will be a very difficult thing to do, but if the IAAF can exert such power then so be it.”

Tancred, who was awarded an MBE in 1992 for his services to athletics, won discus bronze in the 1970 Commonwealth Games, before going on to win silver four years later.

The life vice-president of Suffolk Sport said: “We have had the scandal with FIFA recently and it’s a real shame that this has happened as we are trying to promote track and field as the premier sport in the Olympics.”

Tancred, an ex-IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) coach, who grew up in Felixstowe and Ipswich, added: “I heard rumours in the past about Russia doing this, but to learn that the officials at the top of athletics were allegedly involved makes me feel really sorry for the clean athletes who work exceptionally hard.

“But success brings adulation and a lot of financial reward in athletics now, and there will always be an element out there willing to better themselves by any means.”

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