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O'Sullivan:Truth greatest reward
05 Feb 2016 23:11
Sonia O'Sullivan says that having her suspicions about her Chinese rivals confirmed would be more satisfying than being belatedly awarded gold medals from the 1993 World Championships.
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Reports emerged in the Chinese media today of a letter signed by former Olympic champion Wang Junxia and several of her team-mates 19 years ago that accused coach Ma Junren of forcing them to take “large doses of illegal drugs".
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In Stuttgart, O'Sullivan came fourth in the 3,000m and took silver in the 1,500m, with only Chinese competitors ahead of her in both races.
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Qu Yunxia, Zhang Linli and Zhang Lirong made it a clean sweep for China in the 3,000m, with Liu Dong pipping O'Sullivan to gold in the 1,500m.
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If the IAAF decides that the Chinese athletes were guilty of doping, O'Sullivan could be retrospectively awarded two gold medals.
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Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1's News At One, O'Sullivan said: "If the truth comes out, the difference to me would be just knowing that what you thought was unbelievable and not possible, that you were right in thinking that. You weren't just thinking that because they were much better.
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"I always wonder, if you cheat to get something, how can you sleep at night?"
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"As athletes and coaches you know when something is not quite right and is out of the ordinary but it's amazing how much it takes to prove that.
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"If something like that can be proven all these years later, that the athletes can't live with it any more and they're going to say 'we weren't doing the right thing back then'...
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"In a sense, you can't blame the athletes because it appears that it was a system. They were being told what to do and they didn't have a choice. But at the same time, they went out there and they ran the races.
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"I always wonder, if you cheat to get something, how can you sleep at night and go on with your life and be happy with yourself?"
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O'Sullivan, who went on to win World 5,000m gold in Gothenburg in 1995, said that her initial reaction to the emergence of the Chinese athletes was one of shock rather than suspicion.
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"We didn't really know what to think," she said. "These girls came out of nowhere. They didn't compete at any other races except the World Championships.
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"They had run some very fast times at races in China so we had an idea that they were going to come to the World Championships in very good shape.
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"I was definitely the favourite going in for the 1,500m and 3,000m and I didn't want to believe that was going to be the case. You thought 'well they can do that in China but maybe not in Stuttgart, at the World Championships'.
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"When they ran in the 10,000m and blew everyone away, it was just the most mind-boggling, strangest thing ever.
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"You had never seen such tactics. The way they ran the race was something nobody had ever seen before. It was a tactic employed with a huge amount of physical ability that nobody was able to match.
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"There was a point in the race where they just took off, in the 10,000m it was with 700m to go, the coach was in the stand giving them some sign and off they went.
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"The exact same thing happened in the 3,000m. I was a bit unlucky, I was stuck behind somebody. There was a possibility I could have got a bronze but I got stuck and ended up fourth.
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"Some of the girls were definitely superior to others, and the third girl in the 3,000m, they were kind of hanging on waiting for her.
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"In the 1,500m, I decided 'I'm going to get in the middle of this, I've got to get something out of this'. I wasn't thinking about winning the race but getting in the middle of these Chinese girls and getting some kind of medal."
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