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Mageean: Drug-testers came to my boyfriend's house the day his granny was buried but I'm happy to be tested

Ciara Mageean says although anti-doping procedures can be disruptive, she’s happy to co-operate to keep the sport clean.

Ciara Mageean knows that there are limitations involved in drug testing athletes.
Ciara Mageean knows that there are limitations involved in drug testing athletes.
Image: Sportsfile

WHEN CIARA MAGEEAN crossed the finishing line in the 1,500m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, she reckoned the winning time was somewhere around 3:55.

Amidst the blistering speed of the final, the Down native was focusing on her own targets and effectively running her own race towards the back of the course in Doha.

She surpassed her own expectations by finishing in 10th place while setting a new personal best of 4:00.15. It was a time which left her agonising over how close she came to a sub-four minute performance.

But it was Sifan Hassan’s winning time of 3:51 which rendered her almost speechless as she sat some nine seconds adrift of that figure after emptying the tank.

‘She wha? 3:51?,’ Mageean thought to herself at the time, the sense of shock still visible on her face when she recalls the night of the 1,500m final to the media.

sifan-hassan-celebrates-winning-the-womens-1500m-final The Netherlands' Sifan Hassan after winning the 1,500m final in Doha. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I didn’t think it was possible to go out in a championship race and race that all on your own at the front.

I thought the girls must have run 3:55, 3:56 and it was a fast race. They were miles ahead of me, I should have realised.”

That run from the Dutchwoman saw her collect a second gold medal at the World Championships, to go along with her 10,000m triumph.

But her achievements are shrouded in suspicion on account of her now-disgraced coach Alberto Salazar, who has been hit with a four-year ban from athletics for doping violations.

“I can’t make up nine seconds,” Mageean continues, her typical upbeat demeanour still finding a way through on her expression.

“There’s not nine seconds in me, no matter what I do. What I do cleanly, there’s not nine seconds in me.

“That’s really hard. All I can say is what can I possibly do myself. Within my realm, what would I dream of? A 3:55 would something absolutely amazing. It’s probably more realistic to beat Sonia [O'Sullivan's] national record [3:58.85]. If I could get down to 3:57, I would walk away from my athletic career extremely happy.

I’ll never get to 3:51 as a clean athlete.”

“I’m very happy to say that I will try my absolute best to be as fast as I can as a clean athlete and represent Ireland with pride. To walk off the track knowing that I’ve done everything that I can and that I can be proud of it as an honest athlete.”

Mageean is aware of the public perceptions when it comes to doping in athletics. It saddens her to know that many people assume that all elite athletes are “at it”, and are dabbling with banned substances.

ciara-mageean-after-running-in-the-womens-1500m-final Ciara Mageean along with some of the other athletes after finishing the final. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Equally, the Portaferry woman knows of the limitations involved in trying to detect the wrongdoers. While she applauds Usada for investigating and convicting Salazar, she appreciates that it’s not possible to catch all the offenders.

Drug-testers have called to Mageean a few times since her return from the World Championships in Doha, including one visit which was particularly inconvenient for her.

Still, she’s happy to co-operate with anti-doping procedures in order to prove the honesty of her efforts.

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“The anti-doping system and the testing system can only catch so many and even then the ability to catch the doping athletes is minimum,” says Mageean.

“Alberto Salazar has been caught and these are the things that need to be happening. You look at Russia, we need more of the same to try and clean up our sport and I as an athlete am happy to see those things happening.

I have been tested three times in the last three weeks. I was in my boyfriend’s house in Kells and the testers came at 6am – his granny was being buried that day. Yesterday, the same thing happened at the same house – the testers came calling again.

“It is a bit disruptive to your life but I’m happy to be tested. I never take it out on the people who come to my door.”

Ciara Mageean was at the launch of Circle K’s “Here for Ireland” initiative.

From today, Circle K customers can use the Circle K app or their loyalty tag in-store to generate digital coins that Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls can use to fuel their journey to the Tokyo 2020 Games.

To support Ireland’s athletes, simply download the Circle K app today.

Originally published at 18.28

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