In 1995, Sonia O'Sullivan famously took home gold at the World Championships in Gothenburg in the 5,000 metres.

But the Cork athletics great retains some frustration about what occurred two years earlier in 1993 when she finished second in the 1,500 metres final as a Chinese athlete beat her to the gold medal in Stuttgart, as well as fourth in the 3,000 metres where a trio of Chinese distance runners took the top three steps on the podium.

Speaking on Des's Island Discs on RTÉ Radio 1, O'Sullivan opened up about that period which were later covered by a cloud of suspicion in regards to the performances of some athletes from China.

"It was one of those things when we were all just taken by surprise," said O'Sullivan.

"In the early '90s and late '80s there was talk of athletes cheating and taking drugs but more likely from Russia and East Germany back then.

"All the Eastern Bloc countries, there was talk and rumours of athletes about that but nobody ever spoke out about it. 

"Then the Chinese turned up and it was as if they rattled that whole thought process and what people were thinking and all of a sudden there was this new thing coming and it was more focused on the amount of training that they were doing, intensity of training because people could see them when they were in the village in Stuttgart.

"They were doing these unbelievable training sessions at the track in between the races. People were so obsessed about going to the track and watching them and talking about what they were doing because they just came out of the blue, out of nowhere.

"So there wasn't really time to think too much about it. We're presented with this on the eve of the World Championships. It was definitely a shock to the system for everybody and because it was such a shock to the system and so out of the blue, people tried to carry on as normal."

Asked if she retains a sense of anger about that year, O'Sullivan described it more as a sense of frustration.

"I'm not really angry about it but it's frustrating that nothing was done about it," she said.

"It's really frustrating that their times and records are still in the record books. Even in 2012, I went to an event in Monaco for the IAAF and it was their centenary celebrations and it was the first year that they were inaugurating athletes into their Hall of Fame, there was definitely a bit of an insult there when they had Wang Junxia go up and be into the Hall of Fame and you just thought, 'Nobody's ever questioned this or asked what really went on back then."