Athletics: Seven-stone gymnast 'too fat' to pass her bar exams

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The Independent Online

The Romanian gymnast who was deprived of a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics after failing a drugs test having taken a common cold cure claims she is too fat and ready to quit the sport aged 19.

Andreea Raducan said she had gained 7kgs (15lbs) over the last 18 months and could not face a crash diet to get in shape for April's European Championships. "It's quite impossible to lose so many kilos," the 45kg (7st 1lb) Raducan said. "So I am seriously thinking about ending my sporting career."

The Romanian attracted widespread sympathy in Sydney when the International Olympic Committee acknowledged that she had not knowingly taken pseudo-ephedrine, but refused to reinstate her.

Although she bounced back to win three gold medals at last year's World Championships in Belgium, she said the strain of top-level competition was becoming too much. "I'm in a difficult period of my life. Physically and mentally I'm not able to compete at a high level any more," she said. "It's better to know when you have to stop."

Her coaches admit there is little they can do to motivate her unless she is also committed herself. "We want her to carry on but you cannot impose such a decision," Mariana Bitang said.

Raducan added that she may walk away from the sport completely. "It's possible I will not help my team-mates at competitions in the near future. I'm sorry, because I know many will regret my departure."