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Sunday 4 December 2016

Hit drugs cheats with lifetime bans - Olympic champ Ronnie Delany

Irish Olympic champion Ronnie Delany
Irish Olympic champion Ronnie Delany

Irish Olympic gold medal winner Ronnie Delany has said he is not surprised at news of doping in world athletics and wants a lifetime ban for anyone caught using performance- enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Whistleblower data has revealed the widespread use of PEDs in world athletics, with a third of Olympic and World Championship endurance event medals won by athletes with suspicious blood results.

A documentary by German broadcaster ARD and the Sunday Times reported the findings of the data, which was kept at the headquarters of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Monaco.

Revealed

Delany (80), who won Ireland's third-ever Olympic gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Games, said he wasn't too surprised about the news.

"I'm not involved in the front line of athletics like I used to be, but I wasn't surprised at all when it was revealed how big doping actually is in modern-day athletics," he said.

READ MORE: Olympic hero says 'disturbing' doping claims echo worst fears

"There were always suspicions and now it has been confirmed as such.

"What did surprise me is that certain countries that I thought were purer then pure, as such, showed up at the top of the doping table.

"Back in my time, when I was competing, there was absolutely no evidence of drugs being taken by athletes - it was simply unheard of," he added.

The Olympic gold medallist believes that anyone caught using PEDs should be banned for life.

"The consequences imposed on competitors caught using steroids are simply far too lenient. Instead of stopping an athlete competing for one or two years they should simply be banned from the sport for life," he said.

Despite the revelations, Mr Delany doesn't feel that it will effect the sport too negatively.

"It's a multi-billion industry and the sponsors simply won't pull out.

"All you have to do is look at cycling and the Tour de France. The sport was rocked by doping revelations, but it is as popular as ever at the moment.

"It's a sad reality that this data being released will probably have no profound impact on the sport, which is appalling and ugly to see," he said.

Athletics Ireland Chair of Coaching and Development Eamon Harvey also said that the data didn't come as a surprise.

"It's been known that doping has played a big part in the elite competitions unfortunately," Mr Harvey said.

"Hopefully it can now be highlighted and the IAAF can find a way to eradicate it from athletics completely."

The chief executive of the Irish Sports Council John Treacy described the leaked data as "an appalling situation if correct" and found the details to be "very disturbing".

Endurance

Although the IAAF have data showing that a third of endurance event medals -including 55 gold medals - were won by athletes with suspicious tests, none of these were taken away.

Fortunately this wasn't the case at the 2013 European Indoor Championships, where Irish athlete Derval O'Rourke placed fourth in the 60m hurdles event.

The winner of the race, Turkey's Nevin Yanit, was subsequently found to have used prohibited substance.

Drug cheat Yanit was stripped of her title and O'Rourke has since been awarded the bronze medal retrospectively.

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