Athletics: Ohuruogu hits back at critics of gold medal feat

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The Independent Online

A furious Christine Ohuruogu yesterday rounded on critics who branded her World Championship 400m success a "hollow victory" in light of a 12-month ban for failing three drugs tests.

"I must admit I'm very upset and very disappointed," Ohuruogu said, when asked about the mixed reception of her remarkable feat in triumphing in the World Championship just three weeks after serving the full term of the suspension after the missed tests. "I'm not angered. I am very disappointed. It has made it a bit sour for me."

The phrase "hollow victory" was put to Ohuruogu live on air before the world champion of 17 hours took her seat at a press conference in Osaka in the company of Nicola Sanders, the Great Britain team-mate she had beaten to the gold by the margin of 0.04sec.

Ohuruogu and her coach, Lloyd Cowan, accused critics of double standards, citing the precedents of the footballer Rio Ferdinand (missed drugs test) and cricketer Shane Warne (failed drug test), who are still regarded as sporting heroes. "We've done nothing wrong. We just made a mistake. When you miss a test, it's about people's perceptions. And I can't help that. Chris can't help that.

"This girl was tested last night before we left the stadium and she's been tested 14 times, I think, in the year she's been off. You've got to remember she was tested the weekend before she missed the last test and on the Friday after. So what can you have? Stuff in your system, and it disappears in five days? Come on. When you have been caught then fair enough, but we ain't doing anything wrong. The talent that Christine has is natural."

"It annoys me that people want to pick and choose who they want to slam down and who they want to raise up," Ohuruogu said.

"They hear second-hand stories, and think this is what they need to write about, and it's absolute rubbish. The evidence speaks for itself. You've got loads of athletes missing tests." Across the range of sports in Britain, 126 missed tests have been registered by UK Sport in the past 12 months.

"People in the sport are very supportive," Ohuruogu said. "It's the people outside that you have to educate." There was sympathy from the rival Ohuruogu kept off the top of the podium. "It's a shame," Sanders said, "we can't celebrate the fact that Christine's a world champion, and she's run a fantastic time."

Now Ohuruogu must battle the British Olympic Association if she is to be selected for Beijing 2008.

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