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Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Nandrolone nightmare must end
Mark Richardson
Richardson representing Great Britain in happier times
Steve Cram tells BBC Sport Online about the fall-out from the recent nandrolone cases and how they have rocked British athletics.

Athletics in this country has been dominated recently by the on-going issue of doping - and more specifically, nandrolone.

Both Mark Richardson and Dougie Walker have now been cleared by UK Athletics. With both of those guys you believed it when they said they were innocent, from the word go, but it was important to them that they were proved so on scientific grounds.

There are just so many questions about the natural levels of nandrolone you can expect to find in your system. How can some athletes have much higher levels than others?

The study carried out by Professor Ron Maughan and his team at Aberdeen University partly explains it, but the IAAF might not been convinced.


When you travel round Europe, people are not bothered about Richardson and Walker. They assume guilt and move on
Steve Cram
Dave Moorcroft has taken the right stance throughout all this, in my opinion. He thinks that we need further explanation of the science behind these problems, and it is the IAAF's job to take it on.

Amazed

We were all amazed when news initially broke about Mark Richardson testing positive. You think to yourself, no, not him, everyone must know he's not a cheat.

But then I remember what people around the world used to say when Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and myself were all at our peak.

Because there were three of us at the top, you used to hear whispers that we must be on something.

UK Athletics' Dave Moorcroft
UK Athletics' Moorcroft has backed athletes
People on the outside do tend to take a cynical view. It is easy for us in the UK to stick with an athlete, but elsewhere in the world they don't care.

When you travel round Europe, people are not bothered about Richardson and Walker. They assume guilt and move on.

Sotomayor

It is not a nationalistic thing. Over in Cuba, where Javier Sotomayor is facing a doping ban after testing positive for cocaine, you hear about almost nothing else.

He has even been backed by Fidel Castro, but over here most people know next to nothing about it.

And if the problems we have experienced in the UK have hit the athletes involved hardest, it has also been an extremely tough time for UK Athletics.

The time, money and energy they have had to put into clarifying a situation that is not their fault - the levels of nandrolone that can naturally exist in an athlete's system - are huge.

An independent international drug-testing agency should have been set up years ago, but despite a lot of noise, there has been no positive action.

There were even European politicians talking about it, yet nothing has happened.

Cuban high-jump hero Javier Sotomayor
Cuban high-jump hero Javier Sotomayor
Dave Moorcroft had hoped to spend his time developing the sport in this country and finding champions of the future. That is the job of a national federation, not trying to establish the science behind the tests.

Tarnished

Some people are concerned that the image of athletics is being tarnished by all this. Sometimes it seems that more athletes are found guilty of doping than in other sports, football for example.

I would argue that this is simply because athletics has a longer history of strict testing than other sports.

If you are taking part in athletics on a regular basis, chances are you will be tested on a number of occasions.

In four years of being a decent athlete, you will be tested loads of times.

It is not a nice subject to be talking about, but it is worth remembering that drug-testing was brought in to protect individuals as well as catch cheats.

It is a necessary part of the sport.

See also:

26 Jul 00 | Athletics
25 Jul 00 | Athletics
25 Jul 00 | Athletics
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