Walker embarks on long road to renewal

Lost time has cost cleared sprinter his Olympic place

Dougie Walker was only fractionally late. By 0.05 seconds, in fact, he had missed the 300 yards world record. "I'll be back to break it next year," was his parting comment as he disappeared into the bowels of Meadowbank Stadium. Nineteen months later, the formerly flying Scotsman has yet to get back on the track.

Dougie Walker was only fractionally late. By 0.05 seconds, in fact, he had missed the 300 yards world record. "I'll be back to break it next year," was his parting comment as he disappeared into the bowels of Meadowbank Stadium. Nineteen months later, the formerly flying Scotsman has yet to get back on the track.

The reigning European 200m champion was a notable absentee from Railtrack Scottish Championships at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow yesterday, the day after his 27th birthday and four days after the temporary High Court reprieve in his long-running battle against drug-taking charges. Walker might have been cleared to challenge for Olympic selection, pending consideration of his case by the International Amateur Athletic Federation's doping arbitration panel in Monaco on 14 August, but his chances of making it to Sydney are as remote as the distant memory of his last race, which he ran on the last day of 1998.

After one year and seven months of competitive inactivity, in the wake of his positive test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, the Edinburgh sprinter would have suddenly to summon sufficient form to finish in the top two in the 200m final at the British trials, which start in Birmingham on Friday week - or to perform encouragingly enough to persuade the selectors to leave the discretionary third place open for him. Even then, Walker would need to find the speed to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard, 20.70sec, by 21 August - presuming, that is, he had cleared the IAAF arbitration hurdle and also made serious inroads into a pecking order that includes Christian Malcolm, Marlon Devonish, Julian Golding, Marcus Adam, Ian Mackie and Doug Turner.

It is a task of mission impossible proportions for a man who has become the biggest victim of the nandrolone saga. Merlene Ottey, Dieter Baumann and Troy Douglas have all got back into competitive action less than a year after they were suspended. They have done so without missing a summer season. So has Mark Richardson, who was cleared by UK Athletics last Tuesday and who has since been in Portugal preparing for his return in the British grand prix meeting at Crystal Palace next Saturday. Richardson's case, like that of Walker, might yet be referred to the IAAF for arbitration but at least, having competed throughout last summer (and having finished sixth in the World Championships 400m final at Seville in August), he has a fighting chance of being in reasonable shape for the trials.

For Walker, there is the frustrating dilemma of being free to run, temporarily at least, but without the conditioning he needs to do himself justice, let alone to secure an Olympic place. "I am desperately hungry to race," he said. "It is what I love and what I train for yet have been unable to do for too long, but if I come back before I am in shape to run fast, I risk people thinking I was on drugs all along. Yet if I want to do the Olympics I am obliged to do the trials in little more than a fortnight.

"My chances of being competitive in such a short time are remote. It's a tall order to think I can have the required sharpness in two weeks. It's a bit like asking a heavyweight boxer to go into a world title fight without any rounds of sparring. I think I would be kidding myself, and at the moment I don't know if I will even try.

"It is so important for me to come back and run well. If I run badly, I risk people pointing the finger. Running again and winning titles again are important but not as important as clearing my name, and I don't want to be let off on some legal technicality.

"I am also concerned that I might be so traumatised by what I have been through that I will be unable to reproduce my previous form, especially when I need to, in order to demonstrate that I am, and always have been, a clean athlete."

At least, in the protracted race to clear his name, Walker now has demonstrable proof that traces of nandrolone can appear in the body without having been ingested. Indeed, the research study which confirmed that breakthrough finding - carried out by Ron Maughan, a professor at Aberdeen University Medical School and a scientific expert on the UK Sport Nandrolone review Group - convinced UK Athletics that Richardson had no case to answer.

Professor Maughan's tests showed that athletes taking legal supplements can produce metabolites of nandrolone in sufficient quantities to get them suspended. In fact, after just two days of training and dietary supplementation, one guinea pig athlete produced a greater volume of the offending substance than that which got Walker banned.

"I don't believe Dougie Walker committed an offence, and research provides grounds to make that conviction even stronger," Professor Maughan said. "Worldwide, there have been 350 findings of metabolites attributed to nandrolone in the past year. Some of these people will be cheats, but most will be innocent people going through the same agonies as Dougie Walker."

In the course of his agonising ordeal, Walker has lost a lot - approaching seven figures in financial terms, with deprival of income and legal costs. More priceless, though, has been the time he has lost on the sidelines. As his coach, Davie Gibson, lamented: "Dougie could have been gaining experience last year, when his event was on the grand prix circuit. He would have been racing - and earning - against the likes of Frankie Fredericks, Ato Boldon and Maurice Greene and he would have been at the World Championships in Seville, possibly in the final.

"This week, with Greene and Michael Johnson failing to make the US Olympic 200m squad, the rest of the world's 200m runners are rubbing their hands. The event is now wide open and, but for what is a personal tragedy for an innocent athlete, Dougie would have had a real chance of challenging for a medal."

Instead, the challenge for Walker is to get back in the fast lane with his name fully cleared. The golden hand of opportunity has already passed him by.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot