Aly DixonTeam GB marathon runner Aly Dixon has backed calls for Russia to be banned from next year’s Olympic Games following their implication in the World Anti-Doping Agency commission report.

The Sunderland native has claimed that harsher punishments need to be imposed if widespread cheating is to be eradicated from the sport.

“The punishment if you get caught is far less than the reward from actually doping,” she said. “If you get caught, you get a two-year doping ban. You can be back for the next World Championships or Olympic Games and be back on the circuit.

“If the punishment is bigger – if it’s criminalised and you get four years in jail, or ban a nation.

“Banning the whole nation is the only way to put this message out there that they are willing to do something and they’re not going to take this lightly.”

With the report accusing Russia of running a ‘state-supported’ doping programme, many have called for the nation’s track and field athletes to face expulsion from next summer’s Games.

While Dixon, 37, claimed she was aware of levels of doping within the sport, it came as a shock to learn how ‘widespread and institutionalised’ it has been alleged to have been in Russia.

“I wasn’t surprised at the fact that doping has been taking place but the scale of it was pretty shocking,” she said. “The Russian Federation, the Russian government, and even the International Athletics Federations – that was pretty shocking.”

Dixon added: “Nobody suspected it was systematic doping that was going on, we thought it was just one or two bad camps.”

British sports minister Tracey Crouch labelled the findings an ‘extraordinarily dark day for athletics’, and Dixon has agreed that it has left a cloud hanging over the integrity of the sport. With the report the latest in a string of athletics-related controversies in recent months, the 37-year-old is adamant that action needs to be taken if her sport is to recover from this latest blow.

“It’s time now that it’s tackled and it’s tackled head on,” she said. “It will mean that there is a big black mark against athletics for a while but if we can clean it up, we’ve got to go through the bad to come out the good.”

The Sunderland Strollers star states that while she is lucky to not be competing at a level where she could be ‘robbed of medals and hundreds of thousands of pounds’, her moral fibre would never allow her to adopt a cheating mentality.

“I’m not a doper,” she said. “I don’t have a doping mindset, so I can’t fully understand why they do it. For me, I could never tell lies to my family and look them in the eye and say ‘look what I’ve achieved’ when I haven’t done it naturally.

“I’d rather run 2:29 than do a 2:25 artificially.”

 
 

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