Olympic silver-medallist Sonia O’Sullivan could be in line to receive two Gold medals after reports in the Chinese media reports that athletes were given ‘large doses of illegal drugs’ in the 1990s.
The nations favourite runner from the 90s could be awarded two World Championship gold medals retrospectively from the 1993 tournament in Stuttgart.
O’Sullivan finished second in the 1,500m behind at the Championships and was ran out of a medal place by three Chinese athletes in the 3,000m.
Doubts over the legitimacy of the performances of the Chinese athletes at that tournament have lingered for over two decades and now these sensational, but not unexpected, revelations are surfacing.
The athletes in question trained under coach Ma Junren and became known as ‘Ma’s Army’ in athletics circles.
There were nine athletes in ‘Ma’s army’ and one has told Chinese state media that they were forced to take “large doses of illegal drugs over the years”.
Junren maintained that the Chinese success in the long-distance events was down to intense training regimes in the Tibetan Alps.
Wang Junxia won the 10,000m in Stuttgart in ’93 and gold over 5,000m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in a race where O’Sullivan was forced to retire due to illness.
According to a number of Chinese media outlets, Junxia has detailed the the drug-taking in a letter that was signed by all nine of her team mates.
The IAAF have said that they are going to try and verify the alleged facts contained in the letter and deal with the potential implications.
According to the reports, the letter was written 19 years ago and two years after Junxia set world records at 3,00m and 10,000m.
The letter alleges that Junren forcibly injected his athletes with drugs.
“We are humans, not animals. For many years, [he] forced us to take a large dose of illegal drugs. It was true,” said the team members.
“Our feelings are sorry and complex when exposing his [Ma’s] deeds.
“We are also worried that we would harm our country’s fame and reduce the worth of the gold medals we have worked very hard to get.”
IAAF rules that if an athlete makes an admission of guilt they have the right to ‘take action’, this could lead to O’Sullivan’s results in Stuttgart being upgraded.
Many of the Chinese world records still stand. Last year, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba ran 3:50.07 to eclipse the 1,500m record that was held by Qu Yunxia, a member of ‘Ma’s Army’.