Thursday 12 December 2019

Roisin McGettigan finally gets medal denied her by cheat

Roisin McGettigan
Roisin McGettigan

Cliona Foley

Wicklow's Roisin McGettigan will be presented with a European Indoor bronze medal tomorrow - almost six years after she was cheated out of it by a doping athlete.

The former Olympic steeplechase finalist finished fourth in the 1500m at the European Indoors in Turin in March 2009, where she was just pipped, by one tenth of a second, for a podium place.

The race's Turkish winner Anna Alminova got banned for doping this year, so McGettigan was promoted to third place.

Athletics Ireland have now received her replacement medal and are flying her back from her home in the USA, to present it to her at tomorrow's national athletics awards in Dublin.

They plan to hold a similar ceremony in Cork on December 20 to present Robert Heffernan with a retrospective bronze for the 20km in the European Championships 2010 (outdoors) that he has been awarded in similar circumstances, after the Russian winner was suspended.

McGettigan (34) still holds the Irish steeplechase record (9:28.29) and is also the Irish indoor mile holder (4:30.06), which she set in 2009 when she broke Sonia O'Sullivan's old mark.

When news of her promotion came last March she told the Irish Independent that "it's not just about the medals. The problem is that they (cheats) set the bar unrealistically high, which directly affects everyone else.

"Doping makes clean athletes doubt what they're doing," she said. "You train harder to try and reach their standards and that often leads to injuries or illness."

Derval O'Rourke is also due to be upgraded to a 60m hurdles bronze medal from the 2013 European Indoors, but she is still waiting to get hers because the banned Turkish winner is appealing her suspension at the International Court for Arbitration in Sport.

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