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Sonia O'Sullivan could be in line for World Championship medals after Chinese drug revelations

Reports in China suggest athletes were involved in state-sponsored doping in the 1990s.

Sonia O'Sullivan after finishing fourth in the 3,000m
Sonia O'Sullivan after finishing fourth in the 3,000m
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Updated at 11.20am

20 YEARS AFTER Wang Junxia and nine other athletes — nicknamed Ma’s Army — wrote to a journalist to confess to being part of a state-sponsored doping regime, details of the letter have been leaked to Chinese media.

According to reports, Wang revealed in 1995 that she and her team-mates were forced to take “large doses of illegal drugs over the years.”

Wang wrote the letter two years after she set the world record in the 3,000 and 10,000 metres, times that still stand today, achievements for which she was later honoured with a place in the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Hall of Fame.

Source: danhar2688/YouTube

The letter went on to state how their coach, Ma Junren, had personally injected athletes with performance enhancing drugs and that the athletes had attempted to throw away pills the team tried to force on them.

“We are humans, not animals,” says one passage, another stating:

Our feelings are sorry and complex when exposing his (Ma’s) deeds. We are also worried that we would harm our country’s fame and reduce the worth of the gold medals we have worked very hard to get.”

Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan was denied gold medals in both the 1,500 and 3,000 metres by Chinese athletes, winning silver in the shorter event just days after finishing fourth in the 3,000m.

However, with the IAAF launching a probe into the letter — including authenticating it — the athletes finishing in front of the Cork runner could now be punished.

According to IAAF competition rules, specifically rule 263.3, if an athlete makes an admission of guilt then the association are allowed “take action” up to an including the stripping of medals.

Athletics Ireland also confirmed they would be writing to the IAAF about the matter.

Athletics Ireland President Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin said:

We will be seeking clarification from the IAAF who are in the process of verifying the letter by Wang Junxia. There are two gold medals at stake for Sonia O’Sullivan and we hope this can be resolved to finally bring an end to the uncertainty which has hung over the Championships for so long.”

Originally published at 10am

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