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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 15:01 GMT
Ohuruogu case 'boosts doping war'
Christine Ohuruogu
Ohuruogu fought a long battle to have her ban overturned
Christine Ohuruogu's fight to overturn her Olympic ban has boosted the battle against doping, not weakened it, says Olympic medallist Katharine Merry.

"This didn't just make the back pages of the papers, it was on the front, too," Merry told the BBC.

"It's driven home the responsibility athletes have. This is their career."

Ohuruogu was banned from the Olympics after being given a one-year suspension for missing three drugs tests but successfully challenged the punishment.

The 23-year-old Briton, who won 400m gold at this year's World Championships, claimed there were mitigating circumstances for her actions.

Hopefully we won't have any more cases of missing three, as there is no excuse for it now - athletes are fully aware of what they've got to do

Katharine Merry

The British Olympic Association (BOA) agreed and decided to clear her to run in future Games.

It means she will be able to compete in Beijing, where she will be one of the country's leading medal hopes.

However, there is likely to be a backlash from some people, those who feel the BOA's decision to clear Ohuruogu has set a dangerous precedent and damaged the fight against doping.

Merry says that rather than opening up more grey areas of uncertainty, Ohuruogu's case had made the lines of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour more clear.

"All athletes I speak to are more than well aware now," said Merry, who won Olympic 400m bronze in 2000.

606: DEBATE
MN

"We have a number of athletes across all sports who are on one or two missed tests. It just so happens the athletes who've had these BOA bans lifted have missed three.

"Hopefully we won't have any more cases of missing three, as there is no excuse for it now. Athletes are fully aware of what they've got to do."

However, the message does not seem to be getting through to everyone.

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has revealed that three other British athletes have missed two tests.

Meanwhile, the decision to clear Ohuruogu has delighted British team-mate Kelly Sotherton.

She wasn't a drugs cheat, she actually missed three drugs tests - that doesn't make her a cheat

Kelly Sotherton

"She wasn't a drugs cheat, she actually missed three drugs tests - that doesn't make her a cheat," the heptathlete, an outspoken anti-doping campaigner, told BBC 1xtra.

"But it must be an immense weight off her shoulders and I can't imagine how emotional she must feel right now - her and her family and her coaching staff.

"I'm just overwhelmed for her, because the epitome of our sport is to be Olympic champion and now she's got that opportunity for next year and also London 2012."

Darren Campbell, who won Olympic 200m silver in 2000, is also pleased for Ohuruogu but says she may find it hard to win over all her critics.

"Some people will always believe that she did something wrong," he told Radio 5 Live.

"I'd urge them to support her. She went to the World Championships and did extremely well. Now I believe she will go from strength to strength and do our country proud."

SEE ALSO
UK athletics chief backs Ohuruogu
27 Nov 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu earns Olympic reprieve
27 Nov 07 |  Athletics
Pound backs Ohuruogu ban appeal
01 Nov 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu targets Olympic reprieve
30 Aug 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu 'has good appeal chance'
03 Sep 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu named GB Athlete of Year
27 Oct 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu claims gold for Britain
29 Aug 07 |  Athletics
Christie defends Ohuruogu slip-up
09 Aug 06 |  Athletics
More than 70 Brits missed tests
08 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu is hit by one-year ban
15 Sep 06 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu banned for missing tests
06 Aug 06 |  Athletics


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