Friday 19 January 2018

Jessica Ennis-Hill would have serious doubts if Russian athletes were allowed to compete in Rio

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill would have doubts over Russian athletes if they were cleared to compete at the Olympics in Rio.

Russia is banned from international competition after a World Anti-Doping Agency report revealed "state-sponsored'' doping in the country.

It remains to be seen whether the IAAF suspension will be lifted in time for Russia to take part in Rio in August.

"I hope if it does get to that stage where there are Russian athletes competing in Rio in the Olympics, really drastic measures have been put in place to make sure that nothing like this happens again," London 2012 heptathlon champion Ennis-Hill told the BBC.

"I'd be lying if I would say that I wouldn't look at Russian athletes and think, 'Is everything 100 per cent OK?' because that's just natural for any athlete to feel like that after these different stories and situations have arisen."

Ennis-Hill has first-hand experience of losing out to a Russian drug cheat. She was beaten to gold at the World Championships in 2011 in Daegu by Tatyana Chernova, who was later banned when a sample from the 2009 World Championships was retested and revealed an anabolic steroid.

The Briton is still waiting to find out whether she will be upgraded to gold.

Chernova's results over a two-year period from August 2009 were annulled, but the period of disqualification expired two weeks before Daegu. Chernova would not have had the qualifying standard for the 2011 event if her positive test had been discovered at the time, though.

Ennis-Hill also revealed her horror at the scale of ingrained corruption at world governing body the IAAF, laid bare by a second WADA report released a week ago.

"As an athlete competing at this time, it's really awful to see and awful to read about, but at the same time you have to think that our sport has to go through this really terrible time," she said.

"It has to go to the very bottom, to the darkest place for it to then rise and come out the other side.

"There's been some really horrible stories to read. When you hear about what has been going on within the IAAF, within Russia, as an athlete it is just so disappointing.

"You put your faith and your confidence in organisations to make sure that the sport is governed well...and obviously that hasn't been the case. It needs to be addressed and it is a huge problem."

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