Tuesday 18 June 2019

Russian doping scandal robbed Irish athletes of much more than medals - David Gillick

David Gillick
David Gillick

Cormac Byrne

Two-time European indoor champion David Gillick has said that Russia should be banned from competing unless they can definitively prove their athletes are clean.

Roisin McGettigan was upgraded to bronze after the Irish athlete finished fourth at the 2009 European Indoors. Rob Heffernan, Derval O'Rourke and Olive Loughnane are also likely to be upgraded after the IAAF announced that “major international titles will be redistributed” last month.

Gillick (31) pointed out that the huge levels of doping in Russia robbed Irish athletes of much more than medals.

"This year we had Olive Loughnane, Roisin McGettigan and Rob Heffernan have all got medals that they should have been entitled to get in a stadium, on a podium and doing a lap of honour and the media coverage of these guys getting medals could have got a hundred more kids involved in athletics," he told Independent.ie

"That could have inspired one kid to go ‘do you know what I’m going to win a medal for my country’. They have taken that away.

"That’s three medals. That’s huge.

"The knock-on effect of that, sponsors for the governing body, sponsors for that individual. That is really, really not fair.

"I was really surprised at the extent  of what was happening in Russia."

Speaking at the launch of the VHI mini-marathon, Gillick said that the whole affair felt like something from 30 years ago.

"I was blown away with that, the whole systematic approach was something I thought was back in the cold war years, something back in the 1980s. To read about it now it’s frightening," he added.

"When it was found that they were testing their athletes before championships to see if they would fail a drug test and if they did they wouldn’t send them. It was just unbelievable.

"It doesn’t bode well for the sport and they need to get tougher with this.

"It’s in these individual countries where things need to get tougher.

"Russia have to really get clean or the European Athletics Association will have to ban them, get them out. It’s not fair on clean athletes."

Gillick has become heavily involved in nutrition sine his retirement and is glad to help those hoping to be involved in this year's mini-marathon on June 1 and was particularly taken aback, not by what people eat but when people eat.

"The amount of people who actually don’t have meals," he continued.

"They skip meals in the morning and then they get to the evening time and they’re too tired to go out and do any kind of exercise.

"That’s a vicious circle, so you are trying to educate people of the importance of having a structured meal plan throughout the day to give you the energy to get out and train in the evening.

"Fuelling up and recovery are so important when it comes to exercise and you daily life."

Event information, diets, recipes and training guides for the 2015 VHI Womens Mini Marathon are available at www.vhiwomensminimarathon.ie

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