Doping claims

I wholly agree with Chris 
Marshall’s article (3 August) on the use of doping in sport, which has a long history in both athletics and cycling and even made an appearance in Chariots of Fire.

After his crushing 100 yards defeat by Eric Liddell (in a time only a tenth of a second outside the world record) Harold Abrahams turned in despair to the infamous coach Sam Mussabini.

Originally a cycling coach, Mussabini achieved notoriety when he “coached” Bert Harris to the first professional cycling championship – but was “warned off” for his use of drugs.

He moved to athletics where he coached the South African outsider Reggie Walker to the 100m gold medal in the 1908 London Olympics – and a gambling coup.

There were gold medals and gambling triumphs in the 1912 Olympics, and in the 1920 games his man, an ageing Albert Hill, won Britain two unprecedented golds in the 800 and 1,500m.


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It was his doping and gambling (not his professionalism) which provoked the warnings of both the Master of Gonville & Caius and the president of the Scottish Athletics Association.

Their “history” means that if cycling is dirty, athletics is likely to be the same and the International Association of Athletics Federations’ lacklustre response to clear evidence of doping 
is a catastrophic dereliction of duty.

(Rev Dr) John 

Howard Place


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St Andrews