'Inadvertent drug risk' biggest fear for ahthletes - Mackie

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Ian Mackie believes the biggest hurdle facing every athlete is the fear of inadvertently risking a positive drugs test out of a desire to avoid serious injury in an Olympic year.

The 25-year-old Scottish sprinter claims to be in a catch-22 position when using food supplements in the wake of the problems experienced by his compatriot Dougie Walker and Mark Richardson.

Mackie said: "You have to be very careful now. It's more than just looking on the bottle, you have to be aware of how taking more than one supplement can have an effect in terms of producing nandrolone.

"I know there are those who will argue athletes should not take food supplements at all, but I think there is a need for them.

"They are essential in preventing muscle breakdown because the level of training we are doing is a lot more than Joe Bloggs going for a jog in the park of a morning.

"We are into high intensity work for several hours over six days a week and if you don't build up your protein levels you leave your muscles very vulnerable to injury.

"I'm free of injury at the moment, but the nature of athletics is such that you are very fortunate if you escape problems because you're always pushing your body to the limit.

"In the last three or four years it has become a serious issue and one I'm really conscious of. I still don't feel athletes are informed enough about what we can and cannot use.

"High profile cases like Dougie Walker, Linford Christie and Mark Richardson have made the headlines, but I feel the ratio of those testing positive and those negative needs to be emphasised. More than 99% are negative.

"I don't want to comment on these individual cases because the athletes themselves are the only ones who really know if they are guilty or not.

"I know there are a lot of athletes, including myself, who take creatine and protein food supplements who have checked and double checked what they're taking and have not tested positive.

"I think Dougie Walker was the first to have problems with the nandrolone in 'Maximuscle' food supplement and if that was me I would have binned what I had left of it straight away."

Mackie's dilemma is summed up by his current sinus problem which has left him wary of what medication to take with a clutch of over-the-counter drugs all banned by the sport's governing bodies.

He explained: "I have a sinus problem at the moment which is the kind of problem which can be a dangerous one regarding what you take for it. I'm just limiting myself to herbal remedies at the moment.

"It's pretty difficult when even the likes of 'Lemsip' are on the banned list. The publicity about drugs has not been good for the sport, though I think the public have the wrong idea about the extent of the problem."

Mackie has been beset by injury problems ahead of major Championships in the past, but is optimistic his fortune has changed for the better ahead of his date with destiny at Sydney 2000.

He said: "You do worry more in an Olympic year because it is such an important event. Every morning when I've woken up in recent months I have thoughts of Sydney right away.

"It motivates you to train harder, but at the same time psychologically you do fear a serious injury every time you pick up a niggle.

"It's been a frustrating couple of years for me, but I've never lost faith in my ability, now I want to prove it at the Olympics because I'm not afraid of anyone."