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"There's no way that at least six of them aren't on something"

Irish Olympian Lizzie Lee considered the issue of doping in athletics and her first-hand experien...



Other Sports

"There's no way that at least six of them aren't on something"

Irish Olympian Lizzie Lee considered the issue of doping in athletics and her first-hand experience of competing against athletes who have flouted the rules. 

From a field of 157 competitors, both the winner and runner-up of the women's marathon in the 2016 Olympic Games subsequently received bans after they were found to be doping.

Coming in at a highly respectable 56th, Lizzie Lee, an Irish athlete who had set herself the target of finishing anywhere within the top 50 of that race, acknowledged the likelihood that Jemima Sumgong (winner) and Eunice Kirwa (runner-up) were not her only competitors possibly eking out an unfair advantage.

"I met my Dad the next day for lunch and he just said to, 'You know you came in the top 50? There's no way that at least six of them aren't on something'," she explained in an interview with Off The Ball, "and the top two are the ones we now know about."

Doping Silver medalist Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (L) of Bahrain, Gold medalist Jemima Jelagat Sumgong of Kenya and Mare Dibaba (R)

In a wide ranging discussion that touched on various focal points in Lee's career to this point and beyond, the manner in which a clean athlete at the elite level must contend with the reality doping poses was approached.

Between expressing her faith in certain elite athletes and sharing her admiration for the rigorous approach to anti-doping undertaken in Ireland, Lee admitted that revelations regarding Sumgong's indiscretions didn't surprise her.

"I wasn't surprised by Jemima," she explained of how open a secret doping is within the world of top-level athletes.

"I shared a taxi in New York with Jemima around the time of the women's mini-marathon in New York and she had broken her collarbone or damaged it badly [earlier in the year] and told me she had missed six weeks of training.

"She had destroyed us all in New York. Destroying me is one thing, but she destroyed everyone by about 80 seconds.

"I remember saying to my husband, 'She's been back training for 2 or 3 weeks.' I just couldn't believe anything. But look, I've been in plenty of situations with athletes who I would think aren't clean and I've just gone to another table."

You can watch back Lizzie Lee's interview in its entirety here

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2016 Olympic Games Doping Jemima Sumgong Kenya Lizzie Lee Marathon