Wednesday 13 December 2017

'It would change attitudes if people went to jail' - Rio star Natalya Coyle insists courts need to prosecute dopers

Natalya Coyle of Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Natalya Coyle of Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Irish Olympian Natalya Coyle feels one way to get drugs out of sport would be to prosecute dopers, and those assisting them, in the courts.

"Unlike Ireland, there's no stigma about getting caught in some countries. If it was actually illegal and people could go to jail for it, that might change people's attitudes," she said.

The modern pentathlon star from Meath with two top 10 Olympic finishes learned last week that she's been upgraded from seventh to sixth in Rio because the fourth-placed Chinese athlete has been disqualified for doping.

"It was slightly bittersweet," she said. "It's great to say I finished top six but it didn't change anything really because I didn't win a medal. It's much worse in these situations to miss out a medal and a place on the podium like Rob Heffernan in 2012."

But Coyle and Ireland's chances of a medal at the next Olympics could increase hugely next month if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes to introduce a new 'mixed relay' for Tokyo 2020.

The relay is already on the World Cup programme and Coyle and Kilkenny's Arthur Lanigan-O'Keeffe (eighth in Rio and European champion in 2015) are among the best in the world at it.

They won relay gold at the World Cup final in America last year and travel to Lithuania on June 22-25 to defend that title off another World Cup relay gold in Poland a week ago.

Ireland's top two should also be well suited to a major international event taking place in Dublin's city centre in September 2018 when the Laser-Run World Championships will be held in Smithfield. Laser-Run, a combination of 800m loops and target-shooting, is usually the fifth element of pentathlon but is also a stand-alone sport.

Irish Independent

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