Weightman calls for more education on doping after London 2012 fall-out

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Weightman was just 21 years old when she contested the women's 1500m final at London 2012, her 11th-place finish upgraded to 7th.
Weightman was just 21 years old when she contested the women's 1500m final at London 2012, her 11th-place finish upgraded to 7th.

A top-eight finish in an Olympic final should be the pinnacle of any athlete’s career with the eyes of the world on you, but for Laura Weightman all it consisted of was a certificate in the post, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.

Weightman originally finished 11th in the women’s 1500m final at London 2012 but was upgraded to seventh after four athletes were found to have doped including the two Turkish runners who originally claimed gold and silver.

Now the middle-distance star is backing UK Anti-Doping's Clean Sport Week to increase education on doping and its devastating implications.

“There was a lot of suspicion around the Turkish athletes, in particular, and alleged doping allegations,” the 30-year-old said.

“It did take quite a long time, unfortunately, for those athletes to be caught. The gold medalist was caught in 2013, but it actually took a number of years for the other athletes in the race to be caught.

“I think it took about four or five years for me to get a certificate to say I finished seventh. I remember, it just turned up in the post one year, and I wasn't expecting it.

“I hadn't quite realised, actually, that the official process had been done and all the athletes had received their bans, and the results had actually been changed.”

Weightman’s teammate back in 2012, Lisa Dobriskey raised the alarm that the race was not competed on a ‘level playing field’ immediately after the race, as she moved from 10th to sixth in the official standings.

Weightman believes it is a case of what could have been for Dobriskey, with doping potentially denying her a place on the podium at her home Olympics.

She added: “Lisa, who was in the prime of her life, she might have walked away with a medal, but we'll never know.

“I think it's athletes who have been robbed of their Olympic performance there. Some athletes didn't make the final who should have done, some athletes didn't get out of the heat who should have done and it's for those athletes, not just myself, that potentially their Olympic outcome and experience could have been very different.”

As part of their Clean Sport Week, UKAD have released the findings of the survey that showed that doping can have a negative impact not just on the dopers themselves but also on their teammates and governing bodies.

And it is for that reason that Weightman is calling on all those involved in sport to educate themselves, using UKAD’s newly launched Clean Sport Hub.

Weightman said: “It starts with education, and I think education should start at a very young age, but not just with athletes.

“It should be everyone involved in the sport, it should be with the coaches, the parents, the sports clubs, everyone involved with that athlete right the way through up to the competition level.

“So that athletes are aware of doping in sport and they've been educated from a very early age around not just doping itself, but supplement use, medication use so that they're really prepared for their senior career in sports.”

Clean Sport Week, which runs from 23-27 May, is UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD’s) national awareness week, championing clean sport, education, and anti-doping initiatives with sports across the UK.

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