Tuesday 16 July 2019

'The IOC don't really want to find out the truth about doping' - McCormack highlight's glaring problems


Fionnuala McCormack. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Fionnuala McCormack. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Cathal Dennehy

It only seems right to talk to Fionnuala McCormack about something positive, and by that I don't mean an athlete's doping test, and so we do.

Three days out from Sunday's Great Ireland Run, we discuss her plans for 2017, how she's looking forward to a clash with long-time rival Gemma Steel, or her plans for a big-city marathon in the Autumn.

All the same, athletics has too much locked in the basement for us to ignore the distant screams, and talk soon takes a familiar turn.

Specifically, the report by German broadcaster ARD that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) failed to trigger a doping case after discovering the presence of banned steroid clenbuterol in the urine of male Jamaican sprinters at the 2008 Olympics.

She remembers those Games well, McCormack - they were her first of three - but even as a 23-year-old she had a fair idea what went on when the lights dimmed.

"They don't really want to find out the truth," she says. "That's when we've a problem, when organisations like the IOC don't want to know. They didn't pursue (the Beijing positives) at all.

"It shows the whole thing up very badly because it makes it look like a cover-up. It's really about transparency, isn't it? It's not brushing things under the carpet.


"It's easy to say the sport has been dragged through the mud, and that other sports like soccer - they don't bother reporting any of their issues so it looks like it's fine - but that doesn't work in our sport. With the media and whistle-blowers, it can only get better."

Most agree that it is, particularly since the Athletics Integrity Unit - launched earlier this week with former World Anti-Doping Agency Director David Howman at the helm - is set to take command of the entire anti-doping process and be independent from the IAAF.

McCormack sees other positives too, particularly closer to home. She puts her full backing behind Paul McNamara, who will take over as high performance director from Kevin Ankrom this week.

"He has a good background and it's nice that they put faith in an Irish person, someone who's come through the system," she says. "Sometimes we spend a lot of time looking out and think buying someone in is better because they know so much more, but a lot of times they don't."

As she looks to the year ahead, McCormack has plenty of reasons to feel positive. She's eyeing a tilt at the World Championships over 10,000m followed, hopefully, by a fast time at an Autumn Marathon where, if word is to be believed, she may soon have one less world class marathoner to worry about. And that will be a major positive.

Irish Independent

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