Ennis-Hill: Take medals off drugs cheats

Jessica Ennis-Hill sprinting at the Olympic Anniversary Games in London. Credit: PA

Jessica Ennis-Hill is frustrated by the sight of drug cheats returning to the pinnacle of athletics after serving bans.

The build-up to the World Championships, which get under way in Beijing next Saturday, has been overshadowed by a doping crisis.

Allegations that world governing body the IAAF turned a blind eye to suspicious blood test results from hundreds of athletes (denied by the IAAF) have rocked the sport, while the organisation, which has strongly defended its drug-testing record, last week suspended 28 athletes who competed at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships after the retesting of anti-doping samples.

Great Britain's Jo Pavey, who finished fourth over 10,000m in 2007 in Osaka, could be promoted to bronze after the silver medal winner, Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse, was revealed to be one of those under investigation by the IAAF.

"I think if you fail a drug test and are caught cheating and you have won medals you should absolutely have your medals taken off you," said Ennis-Hill, who will compete in the heptathlon in Beijing.

The Olympic champion has first-hand experience of missing out to a drug cheat, having been denied gold at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu by Tatyana Chernova.

In January the Russian received a two-year ban, backdated to 2013, after the retesting of an anti-doping sample from the 2009 World Championships revealed an anabolic steroid. Her results over a two-year period from August 2009 were annulled, but the period of disqualification expired two weeks before Daegu, allowing her to keep that gold medal.

"There is the idea that everyone deserves a second chance, but it's hard because we don't know the benefits you get from taking drugs and cheating and how long that stays in your system and the effect it has in future years," said Ennis-Hill.

"It's really difficult. For me, having been to championships where you know deep down people are not doing things the right way, it's extremely frustrating to then see those athletes come back and be successful again."

The most high-profile drug cheat in the sport could win its blue-riband event in Beijing, should world number one Justin Gatlin, who has twice served doping bans, end Usain Bolt's reign as world 100 metres champion.

"I hope it won't damage the sport," said Ennis-Hill when asked what impact a Gatlin gold could have.

"We have an amazing sport with some really talented athletes who have probably trained hard and done it properly. It's difficult, I would hope that Usain would come out on top next week."