Yule hoping to lift spirit of his sport

WEIGHTLIFTER Stuart Yule today spoke out about the drug controversy which overshadows his sport - and revealed he’s been scared to take a Lemsip since he was 15.

The 22-year-old powerhouse, whose twin brother Tommy is also going for gold at the Commonwealth Games, checked into the athletes’ village in Manchester this week.

But team boss Jim Ferguson and right-hand man John McNiven have withdrawn from the team after being at the centre of allegations that they were involved in performance-enhancing drugs.

Weekend reports claim that Ferguson, 63, turned a blind eye to steroid abuse at his Coatbridge gym, and that McNiven, 67, who won two bronze medals in five Commonwealth Games appearances, failed a drug test at a veterans competition.

There is no suggestion that the Yule twins and Scotland’s only representative in the inaugural women’s competition, Kirsty Law, are in any way involved.

But the sport has been previously blighted by the suspension of Edinburgh’s Alan Ogilvie - a medallist in 1986 and 1990 - for refusing to take a drugs test.

"Weightlifting has a bad name and I’ve been drug-tested since I was 16," said Yule, who says the focus on his sport is largely unfair.

"Look at all the people who have been caught taking drugs - athletes, swimmers and cyclists.

"They’re saying that it’s down to food supplements and protein powders - not drugs - so it’s made me a lot more worried.

"I am extra careful about what I take now because of everything that’s happened. I take Creatine, some protein powers and vitamin supplements but I stick to the ones that I’ve been tested on and I know are safe.

"I check on the labels what’s on everything and I’ve never had a Lemsip since I was 15.

"To an extent that’s unfair because you can take one if you’ve got a cold but I can’t because of the sport I’ve chosen to do."

Hard work alone has taken the Yule brothers to the brink of a unique double.

Tommy, who is the elder by ten minutes, won three silver medals for England in Kuala Lumpur four years ago but has moved down a weight category to under-94kg.

That has left Stuart, who was in Scotland’s team four years ago, to carry the flag in the 105kg class.

"My brother has always wanted to represent Scotland but because we were born in South Africa and he lived in England he wasn’t allowed to," said Stuart. "Happily now that’s been rectified.

"At the end of the day, weightlifting is an individual sport and he knew he could win a medal, so he wasn’t that bothered.

"But our mum and dad both represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and we’re all Scottish through-and-through.

"We lived in South Africa for the first eight months of our lives and were brought up in England. Because I came to Edinburgh to study and he went to Oxford, I met the Scottish residency requirements and he didn’t.

"Now he’s motivated to beat the English lifters and do well for Scotland and himself."

Stuart is also a man on a mission - to beat Canadian favourite Akos Sander, who denied Tommy gold last time.

"It’s going to be tough because the Australians have not got some ex-Armenians lifting for them and the Eastern Europeans have always been the powerhouses in weightlifting.

"The standard’s going up all the time. Tommy got a silver with 190kg in the clean and jerk, and I’m lifting that in training now, but I don’t know if it will be enough.

"But I’ve got six lifts and I can’t control what the rest of the guys do.

"I’ve got a bar in front of me and the weight is set. It’s not like long jump when one good jump is enough. The weight is always increasing, so you have to focus on yourself and ignore everything else."

As the only two male competitors in Scotland’s team - and with a cloud hanging over their bosses - the twins, who are now both based in the Capital, will rely on each other for support and inspiration.

Tommy is due to compete in the morning of August 2, and Stuart in the afternoon.

"After he’s finished lifting, Tommy will be able to help me out because he’s more experienced and more successful than me.

"Because we’re twins, seeing him do well pushes me along.

"Back in 1998, he was doing a lot better than me, so his success does inspire me a lot.

"It makes me realise that if he can do it, with the genetics we have, so can I."

The weightlifting events take place from July 30 to August 3 at Manchester’s International Convention Centre.

Kirsty Law, a 24-year-old former track and field athlete from Glasgow, competes on July 31.