Athletics: Weed out the drug cheats - Radcliffe.
Marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe is dismayed that athletics has been "dragged through the mud again" by Justin Gatlin's failed drugs test.
But Radcliffe also acknowledges that athletics has to endure the bad publicity surrounding such high profile cases in the on-going battle to rid the sport of drug use.
The revelation that both of Olympic 100 metres champion Gatlin's samples tested positive for testosterone at the Kansas Relays in Lawrence on April 22 has provided plenty of ammunition for the sport's critics.
"The sport's been dragged through the mud again," said Radcliffe from her Font Romeau base in the French Pyrenees, "but, in the end, it is necessary if we are going to weed out and catch the drug cheats."
Gatlin, joint world record-holder over 100 metres, has declared his innocence and according to his New York legal team, led by Cameron Myler, will prove it when he attends a United State Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) hearing probably next week.
Myler has, not surprisingly, disassociated Gatlin from comments made by the Olympic champion's coach Trevor Graham, who claimed that Gatlin failed the test after unknowingly have testosterone cream rubbed deliberately into his legs by a massage therapist.
The International Association of Athletics Federations yesterday quickly dispelled hopes that this might be allowed as a plea in mitigation with a strong reply to Graham's claims.
An IAAF spokesman said: "Whatever is found in an athlete's body when tested is his or her responsibility.
"We have been advising athletes for years of the strict liability policy and encouraged them to be very cautious when receiving any form of treatment."
UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins said yesterday that he would be stressing the need for vigilance to the Norwich Union GB team for the European Championships beginning in Gothenburg next Monday.
Collins will be calling the 80 - plus squad together when athletes arrive on Thursday and one of his major directives will be emphasising the security of nutritional and other medical supplements.
The experienced internationals in the team will be very much aware of this but many development athletes will be making their debut at this level in Sweden.
Radcliffe will be used as a role model. She never leaves any nutritional or medical supplement unattended and her husband/coach Gary Lough acts as an extra pair of eyes.
Collins will stress the importance of being vigilant at all times, particularly in the warm-up and rest areas the British team will be using outside the Ulleval Stadium.
Collins said: "I'll be briefing them all to be very careful and keep a close eye on their supplements and any other medication.
"It is their responsibility to ensure nothing is tampered with and of course all of them are aware from past incidents of the possible penalties."
Memories of what happened to Janine Whit-lock, the British pole vault record-holder who failed a drugs test for Dianabol at the 2002 Commonwealth Games trials, remain fresh.
Whitlock, throughout her two-year suspension and ever since her return to competition, has maintained her innocence of any offence and is adamant that her sports drinks were spiked.
Paula Ratcliffe says sport must endure bad publicity
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2006|
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