I hope athletics world can bounce back after scandal

Do you know, growing up during the Cold War and on a diet of James Bond films has kind of prepared me for accepting all kinds of Russian shenanigans.

Monday, 25th July 2016, 6:01 am
Johnny Marr at last year's Victorious Picture: Paul Windsor

But the emergence of state-sponsored doping of athletes, coming hot on the heels of state-sponsored hooliganism at the Euros recently, kind of beggars belief.

The image of secret service people scuttling around in sewers with pots of urine just so the lab results would come back clean is like something out of a bad spy novel.

And for what?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

To cause disruption at a football tournament that was so bad the national team was put on notice that it might be chucked out of the whole thing if it happened again?

And then just to top the medal table at the Sochi Winter Olympics and risk not only the future of the athletes who were doping under orders, but also those who were innocent in the whole thing?

You’d think there would be more important things for Russia to worry about right now.

Like maybe bucking their ideas up when it comes to foreign policy.

Wait, perhaps this hooliganism and doping actually now is their foreign policy.

But the fact remains innocent people, people who have worked for their whole lives to make it to an Olympic Games and compete against the best athletes the world can offer, will suffer.

Their reputation will be in tatters. The words ‘Russian’ and ‘athlete’ in a sentence will imply ‘drugs cheat’.

And very probably the reputation of the rest of the athletic world will also suffer, as armchair critics and keyboard warriors say, to a man, ‘well, they’re all at it aren’t they?’

But they’re not.

Just like cycling has bounced back from the Lance Armstrong scandal, I hope the world of athletics can do the same.

I’m a huge fan of sport and the Olympics in particular, and I don’t ever want to wonder if the competitor I’m seeing on TV has had a little bit of assistance in making it to the finish line first.

But how can you guard against an entire nation bent on cheating?


So the America’s Cup has been and gone and all there is to do now is cross our fingers that the British team, Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR, go on to bring the cup home.

For me, the racing marks the start of a summer of activities, which will have Victorious as a highlight. I missed out on the Summer Show, you see, though I did hear some of it from my garden, and the dance music at Mutiny isn’t really for me.

I’ve long been a vocal supporter of having cultural events in the city and I think we should have more.

Portsmouth has so much to offer and I think we’re sometimes guilty of letting the naysayers get to us and talk the city down.

But we’ve got great public spaces and great excuses to use them.


I wanted to take the time here to say a public thank you to everyone who sponsored me and my team for our recent cycling challenge.

Personally, donations from friends, family and perfect strangers have helped me raise £610 for Headway West Sussex, and our entire team has raised more than £5,300.

I only started cycling a year ago, and never did I ever think I’d be able to ride 94 miles in a day.

But when the nice chaps from George Ide solicitors in Chichester asked me to take part and raise money for the company’s nominated charity, what could I say but yes?

It was a fantastic day – apart from staff at a pit-stop pub making me go outside to eat my much-needed energy bar in the freezing rain because they don’t allow food on the premises. Jobsworths.