Rio Olympian Lizzie Lee says there is no excuse for athletes to miss multiple drugs tests in the wake of several high-profile suspensions in recent months.
Former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang was handed a four-year-ban earlier this month for failing to submit accurate anti-doping whereabouts on four occasions while world 100m champion Christian Coleman is also now facing a ban after missing three drugs tests in a 12-month period.
Speaking at the launch of the KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon, which takes place from 24-26 October, Lee said there is no place in the sport for such behaviour.
“If I had one whereabouts failure, I wouldn’t leave the house ever for that hour. I had this discussion with Ciara Mageean and we (said), 'God, imagine if you got just one strike?' I’m not even a pro, I'm an amateur and if I was given an hour that I had to be home, it’s black and white, I’d be home.”
Lee was drug tested three times during her pregnancy last year and since giving birth to her third child, Jess, before Christmas, she’s rebuilt her fitness and is training with one eye on a second Olympic Games. She’s running 85 miles a week though admits that Olympic qualification will be a “different ball game to 2016” and will require a sub-2:30 time.
She finished 56th in the 2016 women’s marathon in Rio, a race won by Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong ahead of Bahrain’s Eunice Kirwa. Both athletes have since been banned after positive tests for EPO.
“By the time I retire I’ll be top 50, whether that’s official or not,” says Lee. “It's disappointing, but one thing I'll say is that the out of competition testing in Ireland is unbelievable. If you don't think Irish athletes aren't tested randomly at home, they are. We are. I think that's good, and I can always stand over that and say I’ve been tested all along. If we can look to ourselves and know we’re clean, that's all you can really do.” Stephen Scullion, the reigning men’s national marathon champion, believes doping among elite Kenyans has had a detrimental effect on many athletes further down the field.
“When you see these really incredible performances, the danger is you would push yourself beyond the natural limits and risk injuries, illnesses, or losing a load of weight to try match these performances. I think that’s unfair because it wasn’t real. A lot of athletes will do long-term, serious damage chasing those results that might not have been real.”