Athletes caught doping ‘deserve a second chance’

Former 100m world champion Collins believes suspension is punishment enough for athletes.

American sprinter Tyson Gay was banned for one year [Getty Images]
American sprinter Tyson Gay was banned for one year [Getty Images]

Athletes found guilty of doping offences deserve a second chance and should not be banned for life, according to former world 100m champion Kim Collins.

The US men’s 4×100 relay team, on Wednesday, was ordered to return its London 2012 silver medal because Tyson Gay, who was part of the medal-winning quartet, was suspended for a doping offence.

The team included Justin Gatlin, an Olympic gold medalist who served a four-year ban in 2006 for doping. 

Collins going strong at 39
“I see myself as a late bloomer. I didn’t start doing well track-wise until I was around 21 years old. That’s when I did a 10.1 which is okay. Most people start at 15 or 16. And it looks like I’m doing well now.
“But I think if I was doing well as a teenager, I wouldn’t be able to last this long.
“My personal best is 9.96 in the 100m and I definitely want to run faster. Faster than my competitors and faster than I’ve ever run before.”

There have also been calls for offenders to be banned for life in a bid to clamp down on drug-related offences. Usain Bolt, the 100m and 200m world record holder, called for Gay to be given a life ban from the sport.

Collins, however, believes that offenders should be allowed back in the sport after serving the suspension.

“Everybody deserves a second chance, not just in sports but in life,” Collins told Al Jazeera on the eve of the Diamond League in Doha.

“There are many reasons why people do these things. I can’t tell you why but I believe in second chances. We shouldn’t be harsh to say that we’re going to do away with them for life.”

Time of ‘crisis’

The head of world athletics had admitted earlier this year that the sport faced “a crisis” over allegations of doping by Russian athletes.

Kenya’s Boston and Chicago marathon winner Rita Jeptoo was handed a two-year ban as the national federation faced a difficult period due to numerous failed drug tests.

Collins, however, opted to look at the positive side and lauded the work of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to catch the offenders.

“The sport is going to be like this until end of time. You’ll always find people cheating and that’s nothing new. But it doesn’t mean that track and field is a bad sport. It just shows that WADA is actually doing its job and people are fighting for a cleaner sport.

“If you go into other sports and test as thoroughly as athletics, you’ll find a lot more that’s happening there.”

Collins is keen to be part of his fifth Olympics in 2016 [Getty Images]

Rio 2016 hopes

On a personal level, Collins, who is 39, is hopeful of winning that elusive Olympics medal as he remains optimistic about taking part in Rio 2016.

The Saint Kitts and Nevis sprinter was sent home from London 2012 with missing training sessions given as the official reason. Collins had also spent a night with his wife at a hotel outside the Olympic village.

“My one goal before I retire is to run faster. The other is that Olympic medal that’s been running away forever. There have been many, many discussions between me and the officials after what happened in London and I’m very positive about a return.

“You have to honestly believe you have a clear shot at the medal. Every athlete that steps on that line has a chance. I had a great indoor season and I’m hopeful. Once you’re there, the opportunity exists.”

Collins will be part of the 100m starting line-up in Doha with Gatlin, Jamaica’s Nesta Carter and Qatar’s Femi Ogunode among others.

Source : Al Jazeera


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