Thursday 18 January 2018

‘Fiona can look in the mirror and know that she has come this far as a completely clean athlete’- Irish swimmer’s 'devastated' family

Irish Olympic swimmer Fiona Doyle Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Irish Olympic swimmer Fiona Doyle Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Irish Olympic swimmer Fiona Doyle was close to tears as she was eliminated from the 100m breaststroke at the Olympics in Rio.

Her heat was won by controversial Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, who had been widely expected to be banned from the Games after multiple drug offences but was allowed to take part.

Fiona’s sister Ciara Doyle said the whole family was “devastated” by the result.

“We were all devastated for her and she knew that she had to do a personal best to get into the semi-final and that’s what she was aiming to do and unfortunately it didn’t go her way,” Ciara told RTÉ’s Liveline.

“It was picked up in the studio right after her swim that there was a technical difficulty and that there was an extra stroke in the first fifty that shouldn’t have been there and kind of cost her in the end. When you have been competing at such a high level for a long time, it’s not the lane position that’s going to affect her. It’s all comes down to you.

“She knew herself she didn’t do it and this was her one shot, her one swim so obviously she’s devastated, the family are devastated,” Ciara said.

After her heat Fiona criticised FINA for allowing Russian swimmer Efimova to swim.

"Cheaters are cheaters and FINA caved and it's not fair on the rest of the athletes. She has tested positive five times this year and she was got away with it," said the Limerick-born swimmer, who is a student at the University of Calgary in Canada.

"It is frustrating, the fact that FINA is going back on their word and the IOC is going back on their word. Who were we supposed to trust now? FINA say we a clean sport, but we're not (a clean sport),” Fiona said.

Read More: Irish swimmer Fiona Doyle lashes out at 'cheats' after 'devastating' exit

Her sister Ciara told Liveline that she was “devastated” when she gave the interview.

“They all knew that there was a massive chance that the Russians would be competing. It wasn’t a shock; obviously it’s a disappointment that it’s not fair that the elite team athletes to be doing their best knowing that athletes have cheated,” said Ciara.

“In the scheme of keeping sports clean athletes who have been testing positive are still allowed to complete and I suppose the comment cheaters are cheaters that isn’t Fiona’s opinion that’s the opinion of many people across the many sports. They should not be allowed to compete.

“It’s not fair; it’s not an even playing field for people who dedicate their whole lives to this, not just the athletes but the families too who support them all.

“At the end of the day Fiona can look in the mirror and all her achievements and know that she has come this far as a completely clean athlete,” said Ciara.

Fiona has three sisters, Ciara, Eimear and Sinead who didn’t go to Rio to watch her swim because of the Zika virus.

“There were so many tears over it, because you want to be there for it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and obviously know we’re devastated that we can’t be there for her now. It’s not something you take lightly.

“We have done so much study on this; it was a very difficult decision to make because there is so much that is unknown.

“It’s a bit different for the athletes Fiona has to be there because how many Olympics do you get to go to they’re only on every four years. They’re very well taken care of.

“There was no doubt Fiona would go, this is her dream.”

Fiona's next challenge will be the women's 200 metre breaststroke in Rio on Wednesday.

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