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Cheated Out Of Bronze: Alysia Montaño On Russian Doping Report04:11
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Alysia Montano placed fifth in the women's 800-meters during the 2012 summer games. Russian athletes placed first and third in that event--now there are allegations those athletes could have been part of a larger Russian doping program. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Alysia Montano placed fifth in the women's 800-meters during the 2012 summer games. Russian athletes placed first and third in that event--now there are allegations those athletes could have been part of a larger Russian doping program. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
This article is more than 4 years old.

It’s being called the biggest state-sponsored doping program since the 1970s. Earlier this week, the World Anti-Doping Agency released a 323-page report alleging that Russia has sponsored widespread doping in its track and field program — and bribed international officials to cover it up.

On Friday, the Russian track and field team was provisionally suspended from all international competitions.

Unless the country makes reforms, the report recommends suspending the Russian track and field team from the 2016 Summer Olympics and giving lifetime bans to Russian athletes including the women who took gold and bronze in the 800-meters at the 2012 London Games.

U.S. runner Alysia Montaño finished fifth in that event, and she joined Bill Littlefield.

BL: What did you feel when you learned about Monday's report?

You look like a sour apple. You look like you’re jealous. You gotta keep your mouth shut.

Alysia Montaño

AM: The feeling — I still haven't been able to come up with a word of what I'd felt. You go through this point of shock — just like, "I can't believe this is actually coming out." Then you go through happiness — like, "Oh my gosh, I'm actually going to hopefully receive justice for the wrongs." And then kind of go to anger and a little bit of despair and sadness. I'll never have that opportunity to go back in time and stand on that medal podium and watch my flag be raised in representing my country and honoring my country.

BL: I've read that you've said that you knew the Russian runners at the 2012 Games were doping. At what point did you come to that realization?

AM:  When you just see new athletes come on the scene, and they're improving their times by like six seconds in a year. You see everybody else is gassed, and they could just kinda like run past you. And it's just not normal to put out max effort for nearly two minutes, sprinting, and then just finish the race as if you just started.

BL: You were not able to say anything at the time, I gather.

AM: Right. Until there's some hard evidence, it's just suspicion. And not only that, you look like a sour apple. You look like you're jealous. You gotta keep your mouth shut.

BL: Let's assume that if there had been a level playing field at those Olympics in 2012, you would have finished at least third, if not better. You would have had a medal. How do you think your life would be different today if that had been the case?

AM: I can't even imagine the financial loss that I suffered. Those periods of time when endorsement deals were sitting there waiting for you, that you were not able to capitalize on.

BL: I know that you're planning to compete in Rio in 2016 and I've also read that this report has put a little bit of a — not to use the cliche too lightly — a little bit of a spring in your step as you do your training. Is that right?

AM: I have the most incredible amount of electricity coursing through my body right now. I think that that's the greatest thing these dopers have given me. Because you fight, and you're going day in and day out, and you're training. And when it feels like it's for nothing, that's when it starts to wear. And it eats at you and it eats at you and you're thinking, how can I support this sport?

BL: Alysia, I don't want to end this conversation on a negative note, but I have to bring this up. It's great, I guess, that this particular doping program has been exposed but, of course, you know, people say, "You know, the dopers are always ahead of the testers." Any worry that in the 2016 Games you're going to encounter something similar to what you encountered in 2012?

AM: It's strange that I'm still so hopeful that we're moving in the right direction. The thing that I'm going to take with me instead of worry is belief and faith that what I'm doing is the right thing, and regardless of what the end result is, I'll know that I'll be able to sleep at night because I did it right.

This segment aired on November 14, 2015.

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