Jessica Ennis-Hill: Doping scandal puts sport in dark place

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Ennis-Hill won world gold in Beijing in August, a little over a year since giving birth to her first child

World and Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill says athletics is in "a dark place" after Russia was suspended over allegations of systematic doping.

"To have that huge shadow of doubt cast is really disappointing," said the British heptathlete, 29.

Ennis-Hill came second to Russia's Tatyana Chernova - later banned for two years for doping - at the 2011 World Championships.

She has appealed to the IAAF to have her silver medal upgraded to gold.

Ennis-Hill's coach Toni Minichiello is not sure Russia should be banned from international competition.

"I'm not convinced that it is the right decision," he told BBC Sport, citing the boycotts of the 1980 and 1984 Olympics by nations who were on opposite sides in the Cold War.

"I don't think they achieved a great deal if I'm honest.

"I don't think it's an achievement for us to be able to suspend a nation and then think that everything is still rosy. What we have to do is work with people and put in tougher drug-testing regimes."

British sprinter Adam Gemili said banning the entire Russia athletics federation would punish clean athletes from the country.

"I feel really bad for those guys that will miss out if they do get totally suspended," he said. "But the more people that are getting caught, the cleaner the sport is, and I'm all for a clean sport."

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Minichiello added that his doubt over Russia's ban did not make it any easier to accept the damage that drugs cheats might do to his athletes' hopes of success.

"It's depressing, it's sad, it's despondent. To a certain extent it makes me angry, frustrated.

"I don't think it's just about medals. If somebody makes the finals - what about the person who finishes ninth?

"What about the person who having not made the final, especially in Britain, they're thrown off funding?

"What about the performance directors who because they don't hit medal targets are dismissed? All of those repercussions on lives."

Tatyna Chernova and Jessica Ennis compete at Daegu 2011
Chernova, left, beat Ennis-Hill, right, by 129 points at Daegu 2011

As it stands, Russian athletes are barred from competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

However, their suspension could be lifted before the Games if they co-operate with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

A Wada commission report, alleging "state-sponsored doping" and political interference in testing, prompted the country's suspension.

"We are definitely in a dark place. Hopefully we are going to come out of the other side, everything is going to be resolved and we are going to be in a much stronger, better place," added Ennis-Hill.