Kelly Holmes backs IAAF’s ban on Russia

Kelly Holmes

Kelly Holmes

Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes has welcomed the IAAF’s decision to uphold Russia’s ban from international competition.

The ban was imposed after accusations of state-sponsored doping.

It means Russia’s track-and-field team is suspended from the Rio Olympics, although individual athletes can compete if they prove they are clean.

Dame Kelly, who won the 800m and 1500m in Athens, told BBC Radio Kent: “Until we make a stance, nothing changes.”

She continued: “You can’t go through life in sport with everybody being speculated on and everybody having a downer on sport.

“Being an ex-Olympian, I’m passionate about my sport. You don’t want it tarnished by issues that happen in Russia and all over the world and in other sports, where people are cheating the system.”

The International Olympic Committee has the power to overturn the IAAF’s decision, but has strongly supported it, saying the ruling was in line with the IOC’s “zero-tolerance policy”.

It said in a statement it “fully respected” the IAAF’s position, adding: “The eligibility of athletes in any international competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective international federation.”
Dame Kelly, who retired in 2005, said her view is influenced largely by her own experience of competing against athletes she suspected of doping.

“It’s been exposed now, but it’s been happening for years,” she said.

“You had people like myself, who went through years and years of determination, commitment, hard work and emotional trauma to try to reach my full potential, and you knew you could be in the same race as someone who has done it with no tears. That’s not funny and not fair.

“There are many – 99.9% of sports people – who do it the way I did it, for the love of the sport and the dreams that you have.

“It’s really not right when people do it by (unfair) means. That needs to be stopped. Until we make that stance, it’s going to continue happening.”

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