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Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Saturday, 14 June 2008 14:39 UK

Cyclist describes bulimia battle

Scottish cyclist Craig McLean
McLean in action at the 2007 Track Cycling World Championships

Scottish track cyclist Craig MacLean has told BBC Sport of his struggle against an eating disorder.

The 36-year-old, who won silver in the team sprint at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, battled bulimia nervosa in the early part of his career.

"It spiralled from trying to be an endurance athlete when I was destined to be a sprinter," he told BBC Sport.

"I didn't talk to anybody else about it at that time. I don't think I'd be the athlete I am now had it carried on."

MacLean, who is still hoping to qualify for the Beijing Olympics this summer, believes it is important that young athletes pursue a sport which suits their body shape.

"I was always fighting genetics," he told Radio Scotland's Sports Weekly programme.

"Just from looking at my body type it was obvious that I was a sprinter not an endurance athlete.

"If I had been told, 'you need to be heavier' then it wouldn't have been an issue.

"It just became a bit of an addiction and a control thing as well. I just thought food was evil almost and I felt quite righteous when I wasn't eating."

It took MacLean around 18 months to overcome his disorder and, though he battled bulimia alone, he insists it is better to seek advice when facing such an illness.

"It got to the point where it was really detrimental to my performance and my performance was very erratic," added MacLean, who won gold for Scotland in the team sprint at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

"I just had a talk to myself said, 'this is ridiculous'.

"I basically set myself some rules which were only eating at certain times of the day and only being allowed to eat with others sat at a table.

"I was just making sure I was eating every day so I was never craving food. I was always topping myself up.

"It was something that I was quite secretive about and I had to overcome it myself but in retrospect it's probably always better to ask advice or let people know what's going on."

see also
Team GB for Beijing
29 Nov 07 |  Team GB
Cycling on the BBC
02 Oct 07 |  Cycling
World silver for veteran MacLean
16 Apr 06 |  Cycling
Gold for Scotland in team sprint
19 Mar 06 |  Commonwealth Games
Scots snatch Olympic silver
17 Sep 00 |  Scotland

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