The European 5000m silver medallist believes her results list is far from set in stone
Eilish McColgan fears her athletics history could still be rewritten because of drugs cheats who will eventually be caught.
The European 5000m silver medallist was gearing up for what athletics chiefs hope can be a shortened Diamond League season at her Stateside base in Colorado before returning to the UK last week.
But even in lockdown, the 29-year-old has seen the list of dopers grow.
And McColgan reckons her results list, which also includes a European indoor bronze and an eighth place in the 5000m at last year’s world championships, is far from set in stone.
“It sounds a bit depressing but the way our sport is now, you are better off not being too focused on positions,” she said.
“You don’t know what others in the race are doing – people get caught now for drugs fully six years after the event. There are people cheating and that is just the way our sport is.
“In my first world championships in Moscow, I made the final in the steeplechase. Then I finished 10th in that final. Now, with drug violations, I think I am up to seventh place. Who knows about the athletes that finished in front of me?
“At least I know my personal best is genuine. I know the time I ran is me, the best I could possibly do on that day.
“If I run a PB but finish last in the race then I have to be content with that and know I’ve given my best. If I run a PB and get among the medals, then I’m over the moon.”
Meanwhile, McColgan’s fellow Scot Neil Gourley admits that his rise to become a world championship finalist was fuelled by the most painful snub of his life.
The Oregon-based 25-year-old has remained Stateside while he hopes for a resumption of athletics and the chance to build on coming 11th in the 1500m final in Doha last October.
But the European under-23 medallist concedes the heartache he suffered in 2018, when Charlie Grice was picked ahead of him for the Europeans despite losing out at the trials, may have been the turning point that spurred him to find a higher gear.
“There was a lot of emotion about being overlooked but it faded faster than you might think,” Gourley said. “We just had to sit and say: ‘if this is what it’s going to take – and we’re not going to be looked at favourably – we’re going to have get better and make it black and white.’
“Finish in that top two and not worry about it. It hardened me a little because I didn’t want to let it happen again.
“I decided that I’d have 48 hours to get upset. That’s my general rule after a disappointment but then you have to put it in a box and not dwell on it. We had to use it as motivation for competitions for the future.”
Gourley, speaking in a Scottish Athletics webinar, believes his rivalry with fellow Scots Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr can be a massive motivator for all three as they bid to chase a spot at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.
But ending up together in a world final was something in which they all took pride, he conceded.
“Looking back with myself and Jake, we were fighting it out at Scottish Schools in the past and we weren’t even the best in our age group,” he said.
“We were thinking, how did we end up here at that point? Being there with someone from then was quite surreal.”