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Athletics: Sharp issues doping warning after delayed Euro gold

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Britain's Lynsey Sharp said Wednesday that drug-taking in athletics remained a "huge problem" after being awarded a belated European Championship gold medal as a result of a rival's doping offences.

The 22-year-old Scottish middle-distance runner finished second in the 800 metres in Helsinki last year but is due to be promoted to gold medal after Russia's Yelena Arzhakova was banned for two years.

The Russian athletics federation said Tuesday that Arzhakova had shown an "abnormal haemoglobin profile in her biological passport" and stripped her of her title.

"It's a huge problem," Sharp told BBC Scotland on Wednesday. "There's a lot of people being caught, but it's nothing compared to the amount of people getting away with it."

Sharp added she felt mixed emotions after being told she will receive a gold medal for a race where she ran a personal best but finished more than two seconds behind Arzhakova.

"I'm trying to see the positives, but at the same time you're thinking 'what's the point?' if this sort of thing happens?

"It's so disappointing that it's still an issue in the sport. The 800m in particular is pretty bad for it, it's depressing," Sharp said.

"This is someone I've competed against for the last two years. I've felt like I've got to know her and we would acknowledge each other and smile and say hi. It's disappointing, but at the same time I'm happy she's been caught.

"I killed myself that day -- it was my fourth race in a week and I gave it my all in the last 100 metres.

"I literally feel I gave the most that day in that field, so it's nice to eventually be rewarded with a gold medal."

Tuesday also saw Russia's Olympic discus silver medalist Daria Pishchalnikova receive a 10-year ban for a second doping violation that is set to see her stripped of her London 2012 medal.

The number of Russian athletes, also including 2004 Olympic hammer champion Olga Kuzenkova, to be banned has prompted calls in some quarters for Moscow to be stripped of its right to host the World Athletics Championships in August.

But Russian athletics federation chief Valentin Balakhnichev told AFP in an interview last month that Russia had dramatically changed its approach in the fight against doping and as a result more cheats were being exposed.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130501/athletics-sharp-issues-doping-warning-after-delayed-euro-gold