Monday, 13 February 2017 20:22

Jenny Meadows backs Sebastian Coe to revive athletics

Jenny Meadows has more reason than most to feel let down by the anti-doping authorities and athletics' world governing body, but she believes Sebastian Coe is the right man to revive the sport.

Meadows on Friday learned her European 2010 bronze medal had been upgraded to silver, seven months after her retirement, after Russia's Mariya Savinova was handed a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and had a period of results annulled.

The 35-year-old Wigan athlete reckons a career which earned four major medals might have garnered four more had the IAAF and the World Anti-doping Agency done more to stamp out performance-enhancing drug use.

Lord Coe's leadership of the IAAF continues to be scrutinised, particularly allegations of turning a blind eye to the corruption of the previous regime, which he denies.

Meadows has backed Coe, despite her reservations over the IAAF, which banned Russia from the Rio Olympics over state-sponsored doping.

Meadows told Press Association Sport: "When you're in one of those roles you're always going to get criticised. It's tough for whoever does it.

"I think Seb is great at delivering. He delivered on the track, he delivered off the track at London 2012.

"If he doesn't do it, I don't know who else can.

"I really feel let down by the governance of our sport. I don't feel that WADA, I don't feel like the IAAF have done enough to protect me as an athlete, to give me my worth of all those hard training miles that I was putting in.

"It's really important that a number of people work together to make sure we protect these young athletes."

Meadows will later this week meet with European Athletics, an organisation she says is taking the initiative to address the plight of a sport which hit rock bottom prior to the Rio Olympics.

Meadows wants to educate children, particularly in cultures where the morality of performance-enhancing drug use is not questioned. She wants to promote the interests of future generations of athletes by preaching clean sport.

She added: "It's really important we go several steps back. We have to go right into the schools and explain in some countries why we shouldn't dope.

"It really should be the IAAF doing this, it should be WADA.

"European Athletics are doing it because they're more connected to the fans of the sport.

"It'll be a small step whatever we decide to do, but it won't solve the problem."

Meadows missed London 2012 through injury, but that is part and parcel of sport.

Being denied the opportunity to stand on a podium by a drug cheat like Savinova – her "nemesis" - is more galling for Meadows.

Meadows was in the form of her life during the indoor season in 2010, but finished second to Savinova at the World Championships in Doha. Savinova retains that gold medal on a technicality, as she had only recently joined the drug-testing programme.

Meadows was also denied top step of the podium at the 2010 European indoors before being upgraded after Russia's Yevgeniya Zinurova was stripped of the title.

"I almost do feel robbed of a moment that was a great moment, but could have been a very, very special moment," she added.

"I'm very grateful for the three years I had when I won medals. (But) I do think the four medals should've been seven or eight if I look back now.

"A little bit of bitterness is creeping in. If I would've been given the opportunity to get the results I did deserve it would've put me on a whole different platform."

Meadows agrees with calls to acknowledge those athletes retrospectively awarded medals, but is not sure how or whether it should happen at August's London 2017 World Championships.

"It's going to take a long time – there's so many," she added.

"I do think there should be some sort of acknowledgement, but at the same time I'm quite happy not to steal the limelight off those athletes that are competing for medals in 2017."

Reuters -- OmRiyadat