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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Some people take different views of cheaters' legacy

Eamonn Sweeney

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

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Anna Alminova's (C) has been caught doping for a second time and her results for the period which included gold in the European Indoors 1,500m in Turin 2009
Anna Alminova's (C) has been caught doping for a second time and her results for the period which included gold in the European Indoors 1,500m in Turin 2009

Róisín McGettigan was a fine athlete.

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I remember with great fondness her thrilling victory in a Grand Prix 3,000m steeplechase at Crystal Palace just before the 2008 Olympics which broke the stadium record. She went on to reach the final at those games, as she had done at the previous year's World Championships. The year after the Olympics she came agonisingly close to winning a medal when she finished just 0.14 of a second behind bronze medallist Sonja Roman of Slovenia at the European Indoors 1,500m in Turin.

That was as close as the Wicklow athlete came to mounting the podium at a major championships. But last week, as she played in the sandbox with her children at their house in Rhode Island, she heard that the bronze medal was hers after all. Gold medallist Anna Alminova has been caught doping for a second time and her results for the period which included the championships have been expunged so McGettigan has been moved up to third.

It's good news for the athlete but it would have been so much better had she got the chance to climb the podium at the time, to celebrate with her friends and relations and to enjoy a bit of the limelight which didn't fall often enough on her in an honourable career. She's said herself that she considers getting the medal at this stage "a hollow victory." It's just the latest story of an Irish athlete being done down by a drug cheat.

Meanwhile, our very own drug cheat, distance runner Martin Fagan, is just back in the sport after serving a two-year ban, something hailed by Ian O'Riordan of The Irish Times as a kind of triumph of the human spirit and all-round good news story.

I suppose it's different when it's one of your own gang.

Sunday Indo Sport

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