Sonia O'Sullivan admits that becoming a three-time world champion would be satisfying

A report has found that rival athletes doped which could earn O'Sullivan two more gold medals

Sonia O'Sullivan admits that becoming a three-time world champion would be satisfying

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Reports earlier in the week sparked joyous speculation in Ireland that Sonia O'Sullivan could be upgraded to two gold medals from the 1993 World Athletics Championships. This would make her a three-time world champion runner.

For much of the early 1990s, a band of Chinese athletes dominated women's long distance running under the guise of ''Ma’s Army,'' which denoted the name of their famous coach Ma Junren.

Due to their gold winning runs in the 3,000m and 1,500m, Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan was deprived of a spot on the winner's podium in the 1993 World Championships. One of her more potent rivals during those years was Wang Junixa, who has recently stated in Chinese media that all nine of ''Ma’s Army'' were forced to take “large doses of illegal drugs over the years”.

These startling revelations could culminate in O'Sullivan receiving one, if not two gold medals from the aforementioned races and O'Sullivan admits that the upgrade would be well received if it is ratified.

“Just knowing you were cheated out of something, knowing you were doing the right thing, knowing people were right to question those runners, you certainly feel better about that.'.

“And if the results are ever adjusted, and I am a three-time World champion, that would definitely be hugely satisfying for me, to have your name in the record books like that. That’s what people will look at, over the course of history. It would definitely make me a lot more content about my overall career, what is written down in history like that'.'

Unsurprisingly, suspicions around the success of the Chinese were rampant during '90s.

''People always had their doubts about the Chinese. Back then not everyone was willing to point the finger. But it was the strangest time ever, everyone was calling it the ‘Chinese takeaway’, because they came along, set these records and won all these titles, and then in 1994 and 1995 were nowhere to be seen'.'

“I just didn’t want to hear it, because I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t want to get involved. I felt it wasn’t going to do me any good to get annoyed about it. That was my method of dealing with it.” 

In a perverse way, O'Sullivan is somewhat grateful to the Chinese athletes. Their exhausting running sessions and astonishing race times, regardless of whether or not they were driven by the consumption of performance enhancing drugs, stimulated Sonia to increase her own training. And that in turn, delivered enormous success for her. 

''So that’s another question. Maybe if the Chinese didn’t run those times in 1993, weren’t driving me like that, I wouldn’t have come out and run as fast as I did in 1994. 

“And also in 1994, after being sort of knee-jerked into training as hard as I possibly could, running unbelievable times, I would have had the world record for the 3,000m, and it would have stood for the next eight years". 

Throughout her career, Sonia O'Sullivan was deprived of several other gold medal finishes by athletes who were subsequently convicted of doping. In the 1992 Olympics, Sonia was poised for the gold medal in the 3,00m but was overtaken by Russian athletes who were later found to have doped. And in 2002, a Spanish runner who has since been charged with doping offences, denied O'Sullivan a gold medal in the 5,000m final at the European Championships.