Former Olympic hurdles champion believes four-year doping bans aren’t enough
Sally Gunnell has warned tougher worldwide sanctions are needed to deter athletes from doping in future.
Recent plans from the World Anti-Doping Agency detail a four-year minimum suspension for athletes found guilty of using drugs such as steroids to enhance their performance.
Although Gunnell believes an increase from the current two-year minimum suspension is a step in the right direction, she continues to advocate a life ban with rules applicable across the globe.
“I’ve always had strong views about a life ban,” said the 1992 Olympic 400m hurdles champion. “I think the two years was never deterring enough. People think it’s worth the gamble because they’ll only miss the two years and can come back.
“That’s why I’m for a life ban. You want people to say ‘it’s not worth it’. I just wish the whole of the world would have the same rules as we do because I do believe we are very strict over here and you’d like to see the rules that are stuck and it’s worldwide almost.”
Speaking in a week which has seen Russian discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova set to be stripped of her London 2012 silver medal after a second doping offence, Gunnell continued: “So many of those countries, they just think two years is worth the gamble. Because actually in those two years they can go away, train hard and come back out a better athlete.
“So it has to be four years or life, because four years, in athletics terms, you can’t return from that, you’re out of the sport for too long. I think that’s a really strong message and rightly so.”
Gunnell reinforced that the anti-doping message needs to be a strong one when you are trying to encourage youngsters to get involved in sport.
“It often worries me that in some countries there’s that culture almost through high school, especially with American football and baseball and things. You just think it’s such a wrong culture to be brought up in, as though it is almost acceptable.
“I think we have to really stick together and it has to be worldwide that you’re sending that message out. There’s no point in abusing your body and cheating because you won’t win or get away from it. I think that’s a really strong message.”
» Sally has joined forces with Sport England and cruise line Royal Caribbean International on a campaign to get more people involved in running www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/runners