Jo Pavey has expressed her delight after finally being awarded a 10,000‑metres bronze medal for the 2007 world championships 10 years late – but admits she still wonders whether she missed out on other medals because of drugs cheats.
The 43-year-old was upgraded from fourth in Osaka after the International Association of Athletics Federations confirmed that the Turkish athlete Elvan Abeylegesse, who originally took silver, had retrospectively failed a doping test at the championships. The result means that the American Kara Goucher is pushed up to silver behind the Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba.
Pavey said: “It’s been a decade of waiting, but now to have it in black and white from the IAAF that her results will be annulled and I’ll receive my medal finally means a lot. I can finally enjoy the moment. I would have preferred to have been on the podium in Osaka but it is good to have a resolution.
“It’s been so frustrating because I suspected drug-taking was happening in 2007 and before but had no definite proof.”
However, Pavey believes that she may have been denied other medals because of drugs cheats. She cites the 2006 European championships, where she finished fourth in the 5,000m – with the banned Russian Liliya Shobukhova ahead of her – as well as the 2002 European championships, when she was fifth behind the Russians Yelena Zadorozhnaya, who failed a drugs test in 2014, and Olga Yegorova, who was given a two-year ban in 2008 for manipulating drug samples.
“That 2002 Europeans I certainly have suspicions about some of the athletes where maybe I could have won a medal after finishing fifth,” she said.
Pavey spent most of her career just missing out on the podium before winning a Commonwealth bronze in the 5,000m and gold in the 10,000m at the European championships in 2014, but the Osaka award is her first major global medal.
“Obviously I’ll be thrilled to receive that medal that’s rightfully mine but it’s also bittersweet,” she said. “I was in the best shape of my life that day, it was incredibly hot and humid and I gave it my all and it was so close for a medal only to lose it just before the line.
“I just felt massive frustration I couldn’t quite do it, it was a feeling of failure, lying on the track flat on my back, feeling massively disappointed. You feel like you’ve let everyone down when it could have been you standing on the podium feeling massively proud, it should have been a day of massive elation.”
Pavey said she hoped she would receive her medal at the world championships in London this summer. “It would be really special to receive my medal at a home world championships on home soil. But I don’t want it to be a sob story just about me, I’m just an example of what happens when clean athletes are cheated out of medals.”