Drugs in sport: Haunted by the past

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The Independent Online
LIKE athletics, Brunning's new chosen sport of judo comes under the umbrella of Sports Council doping control, and participants are similarly tested at random in and out of competition, writes Mike Rowbottom.

'If people in judo ask me about my past, I tell them,' Brunning said. 'I haven't got anything to hide. That was then and this is now. I am a totally different person. I wouldn't touch drugs now.'

Brunning, who is coached by Alan Roberts at the Dartford judo club, is currently working as a scaffolder and saving so that he can concentrate full-time on judo after Christmas. He is happy to be back in a sport where he reached brown belt standard as a young teenager.

'I would have had to do some other kind of sport if I hadn't been able to do judo,' he said. 'I just like to compete. And I like chucking people around. It is a different atmosphere when you do judo. Unlike at athletics meetings, you are centre stage, because you and your opponent are the only people on the mat. I like the feeling when you are totally knackered at the end of the night. You are bruised, battered and bleeding, and your fingers are split from gripping. You feel you have really done something.'

Roberts said that Brunning had trained with him for just over a month. 'I know that he is ambitious. He's a heavy man, and he has got potential. If he works hard, he could come through. But it is early days yet.'

Brunning's says he is aiming for the 1996 Olympics. That particular ambition is in doubt, however, unless he can appeal successfully through the British Judo Association to the British Olympic Association, which rules that Britons banned for doping offences are ineligible for future Olympics unless there are mitigating circumstances.