Sharron Davies hopeful of receiving retrospective gold medal

Sharron Davies hopeful of receiving retrospective Olympic gold medal as she calls on world swimming’s governing body to take action after she lost out to East German drug cheat Petra Schneider at 1980 Games

  • Sharron Davies received a silver medal in the 400metre individual medley 
  • Petra Schneider admitted doping as part of state-sponsored cheating
  • Davies has urged for justice to be delivered to those robbed by the programme 

Olympic medalist Sharron Davies has called on world swimming’s governing body to hand over the retrospective gold she lost to an East German drug cheat in 1980.

Davies was forced to settle for silver when Petra Schneider won the 400metre individual medley in Moscow four decades ago.

Last year, Schneider admitted doping as part of a systemic programme of state-sponsored cheating.

And, speaking ahead of the Extraordinary General Congress of the International Swimming Federation in Budapest on Sunday, Davies urged FINA’s newly formed aquatic integrity unit to deliver the justice promised to those robbed by the East German drug programme in the 1970s and 80s.

‘FINA have this new unit they are bringing together to look at ethical and governance issues to try and put things right which have been done wrong. So we are hoping medals is an issue we might be able to put to them. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) don’t want to admit that what they did was so bad. They want to pretend it didn’t happen and they keep throwing this line about the length of time passed all these years later.

‘Well, they could have fixed all this as soon as the Berlin Wall came down and they chose not to. All the evidence of East German doping was there.

Sharron Davies has called on world swimming’s governing body to hand over the retrospective gold medal that she lost in the 1980 Olympics in the 400metre individual medley event

Davies (left) finished second at the event behind East Germany’s Petra Schneider who confessed last year to doping as part of a systematic programme of state-sponsored cheating

‘So we are still pushing for it. And it’s not just me affected.

‘Michelle Ford is the only person I know who wasn’t from the eastern bloc to win a swimming medal in Moscow and she would have won a couple of other medals. I would have picked up another bronze in the relay as well and we are trying to get this sorted out.

‘FINA have a congress this weekend and I’m not sure how productive it’s going to be. But we are able to put certain things in front of this new integrity unit and we are hoping that they will come out with their new trans- athlete policy on Sunday then start looking at what happened with medals in the GDR era.’

Reattributing medals features on the FINA agenda, with swimming chiefs also expected to clarify their stance on biological males competing in female categories after trans athlete Lia Thomas smashed the opposition and broke records in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) championships in Atlanta.

Davies won two Commonwealth gold swimming medals for England but missed out on a number of medals between 1975 and 1985 when swimming rivals were encouraged to take anabolic steroids and hormone reduction drugs by the East German Swimming Federation.

Schneider, who won the gold by ten seconds in Moscow, is reported to be suffering from liver and heart problems, while Rica Reinisch, another gold-medal winner, claims she was given steroids at the age 12 and now suffers from ovarian cysts.

Davies has called on justice for those that lost out on medals to East Germany athletes including Schneider (pictured) during the 1970s and 1980s through the drug programme

An outspoken opponent of biological males pursuing hormone suppression to win medals in women’s sport, Davies fears a new generation are destined to suffer the same sense of injustice she felt after Moscow. ‘I don’t know if you can ever atone for what happened,’ she tells Sportsmail. ‘Just the other day I was asked to film a slot for Question of Sport on the BBC. I was one of the boxes on the screen and the clues were that I had competed in three different Olympics in three different decades.

‘My first was in 1976, my last was in 1992 in Barcelona. And when I won my silver medal in Moscow the question was which year was that?

‘I was thinking: “Do I still have to say when I won my silver medal?” It still really bothers me because it should’ve been gold. I get introduced on TV and on the BBC before 2012 they introduced every single living gold medallist from the Olympics.

‘Colin Murray, bless his little cotton socks, said he was going to interview me on the same basis, which I thought was a really nice thing to do.

‘Even when I am talking to the boys at events for the BBC they still talk to me as if I am a silver medallist and I think: “You know the truth, you know what happened.” It’s a very frustrating state of affairs. I don’t want anyone to go and physically take Petra’s medals away from her. But they could reissue them or issue new medals or they could change the record. They could put things right.

‘Kathy Smallwood-Cook was a phenomenal athlete who was forever behind the East Germans and no one knows how good she really was.

Davies missed out on a number of medals between 1975 and 1985 when rivals were encouraged to take anabolic steroids and hormone reduction drugs

‘And then there was the swimmer Ann Osgerby, who was fourth to three East Germans in the 100m butterfly. No one knows what she did now. All of these people lost out.’

The desire for retrospective gold is not just a personal thing. Her father and former coach Terry is now 86 and continues to coach at Hemel Hemstead three times a week. For speaking out over the East German swimming scandal he was left out of Great Britain’s coaching team for the Olympics where his own daughter was robbed of gold.

‘It’s my dad I feel for,’ adds Davies. ‘He was ostracised for doing what I am doing now and speaking out about unfairness in sport.

‘He literally was never picked as an international coach and didn’t go to the Olympics where I won my medal.

‘That happened just because he spoke out. Everybody knew it was going on, everybody around the pool scene knew. It would mean the world to dad to right this wrong.’




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