Ireland’s Geraldine Finnegan loses Kamloops medals for doping

Geraldine Finnegan

Geraldine Finnegan, a W40 star who won four medals at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Kamloops, British Columbia, tested positive for the banned drug ephedrine (a stimulant) and has been stripped of at least two medals, according to Irish news sites. Read the news here. If folks move up a spot, it would mean a gold for U.S. pentathlete Susan Weimer and a bronze medal in the 400 for America’s Maryline Roux, who took fourth in that event at Kamloops in March. (There was no fourth in the 60-meter hurdles.) At Lahti worlds, Geraldine was the W40 gold medalist in the 80-meter hurdles and silver medalist in the heptathlon. She’s a decorated athlete who also competed at 2005 San Sebastian and 2007 Riccione worlds. I’m still awaiting official confirmation from WMA on precisely which medals Geraldine gives up. Nothing on the WMA site yet.

Geraldine Finnegan (listed as Gerladine in results) is a multi-eventer.

Here’s the news blast, dated today:

The Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel has ruled that athlete Geraldine Finnegan has committed an anti-doping rule violation.

Athletics Ireland and the Irish Sports Council have announced the panel found that, contrary to Article 2.1 of the Irish Anti-Doping Rules, the presence of prohibited substance ephedrine was found in a sample of the athlete’s urine collected during testing after the 60 metres hurdles race at the World Masters Championships in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada on March 5, 2010.

Finnegan’s results in the race – second place and a silver medal -are automatically disqualified in accordance with the Irish anti-doping rules.

Her results in her subsequent competition at the World Masters Championships are also disqualified – a third place and a bronze medal in the 400 metres race on March 6, 2010.

Finnegan’s results at Kamloops:

W40 Indoor Pentathlon
40 WMA: R 4125
Name Age Team Finals
1 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 3514
2 Wiemer, Susan W44 United States 3026
3 Kojalovica, Ilona W43 Latvia 2940
4 Kroeger, Iuliana W41 Canada 2073
5 McCarthy-Coomey, Liz W42 Ireland 1849

W40 Javelin Throw 600G
40 WMA: R 61.23m
Name Age Team Finals
1 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 30.48m
FOUL 29.55m 27.90m 28.59m FOUL 30.48m
2 Weller, Ellen W44 Germany 28.38m
27.07m 26.68m 28.23m 26.67m 28.38m 27.60m
3 Vos, Ingrid W43 Belgium 22.99m
22.95m 21.03m 18.48m FOUL 22.99m 21.40m

W40 400 Meter Dash
WMA: R 56.15
Name Age Team Finals
1 Daley, Lisa W40 United States 60.01
2 Brims, Julie M W43 Australia 62.54
3 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 62.81
4 Roux, Maryline W43 United States 63.34
5 Wiemer, Susan W44 United States 64.24
6 Hiscox, Donna M. W43 Australia 67.62

W40 60 Meter Hurdles .762 &.840
40 WMA: R 8.55
Name Age Team Finals
1 Canedo Reyes, Bertha W40 Mexico 9.71
2 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 9.72
3 Krepkina, Valentyna W44 Ukraine 9.75

W40 800 Meter Run
WMA: R 2:01.59
Name Age Team Finals
1 Everton, Nicola W44 Canada 2:24.93
2 Oliveira, Rosa Maria W43 Portugal 2:25.81
3 Pritchett, Bernadine H. W43 Great Britain 2:26.62
4 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 2:27.56
5 Carter, Brenda W42 United States 2:29.58
6 Wells, Sarah J. W40 Great Britain 2:32.52
7 Coombe, Amanda J. W42 Australia 2:33.31
8 Hiscox, Donna M. W43 Australia 2:36.53
9 Fouladi, Rachel W42 Canada 3:08.87

W40 Triple Jump
40 WMA: R 12.77m
Name Age Team Finals
1 Krepkina, Valentyna W44 Ukraine 11.15m
10.79m 10.82m 11.15m 10.89m 10.67m 10.83m
2 Canedo Reyes, Bertha W40 Mexico 10.63m
10.63m 10.47m FOUL 10.60m 10.54m 10.46m
3 Brims, Julie M W43 Australia 10.52m
FOUL FOUL 10.07m 10.13m 10.52m 10.23m
4 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 10.51m
9.88m 10.13m FOUL 10.09m 10.24m 10.51m
— Kroeger, Iuliana W41 Canada DNS
— Mohr, Christina W41 Canada DNS

W40 Shot Put 4K
40 WMA: R 19.16m
Name Age Team Finals
1 Stolt, Silke W42 Germany 11.62m
10.95m 10.98m 11.62m 11.29m 11.60m 11.23m
2 Weller, Ellen W44 Germany 11.30m
10.85m 10.74m 11.30m 10.98m 10.64m 10.85m
3 Thrush, Jane Camilla W40 Great Britain 10.85m
10.59m 10.18m 10.12m 10.85m 10.79m 10.25m
4 Finnegan, Gerladine W44 Ireland 10.49m
10.49m 9.75m FOUL 10.28m 9.64m 10.41m
5 Layt, Caroline K. W44 Australia 9.72m
9.43m 8.93m 9.51m 9.22m 9.72m 9.40m
6 De Wolf, Kathleen M W42 Belgium 8.99m
FOUL 7.92m 8.53m 8.99m FOUL 8.24m
7 McCarthy-Coomey, Liz W42 Ireland 8.49m
8.12m 8.28m 8.49m 8.40m 7.90m 7.98m

Geraldine ran the steeple at the 2006 European masters championships in Poznan, Poland. (Photo by Tom Phillips)

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May 21, 2010

16 Responses

  1. Ken Stone - May 21, 2010

    Many track athletes have tested positive for ephedrine, but several have been given a warning — and not a sanction:

  2. Ken Stone - May 21, 2010

    Unanswered question: Has Geraldine been suspended?

  3. Jack Karbens - May 21, 2010

    Someone who is an expert on the subject, please post an explanation of the percentage increase in Geraldine’s various performances which were probably caused by the level of ephedrine found in her system. She seems to be an excellent athlete. Her pentathlon score is 488 points higher than second place. Would the level of ephedrine found in her body improve performance by at least 15%?

    I have no idea about most drugs. I do not even take aspirin. Do doctors prescribe ephedrine for other medical reasons besides improving athletic performance?

    Please clarify that the drug testing done at an International meet is conducted and results determined by the athlete’s home country, such as “Athletics Ireland.” If this is the case, what happens to athletes who take steroids and then represent a country which does not test athletes at the same level as the authorities in other countries? Does Athletics Ireland use the same drug testing for athletes who are 20, 40, 60 , 80 and 100 years old?

    I need answers to these questions before I ever advise any masters athlete to compete in meets where drug testing may be conducted.

  4. Ken Stone - May 22, 2010

    The drug-testing took place at Kamloops. I gather from press reports that she’s losing two medals — not all four. Apparently, you lose medals in events of the day you tested and any afterward.

    So I guess she can keep her javelin and pentathlon medals — won before she was tested.

    But I’m hoping WMA officials clear this up.

  5. Susan Wiemer - May 22, 2010

    This is so unfortunate on so many levels. Geraldine is a tremendous athlete, I competed against her in the pentathlon and have to admit that she simply has better technique. (My consolation is that I am a lot stronger. If I can polish up my technique, who knows…) Honestly, she probably would have done just as well without having to dope. I hope to see her again in two years, she is a talented and tough competitor, and I would love to have another try at her on a level playing field.

  6. Mike Fortunato - May 22, 2010

    Ephedrine has not been shown to have strong performance enhancing effects. See this:

    Alone, it has proven to be like caffeine with no statistically discernible performance improvements. (Although there is probably some benefit, the levels are not high enough to be pronounced statistically significant.) Combined with caffeine and aspirin, however, there is appears to be some evidence of an ability to perform at high levels longer before exhaustion. So a multi-event day, or an hour long race, would presumably be helped. There are grave health concerns for users, as a number of cardiac incidents, including death, have been reported.

    Mostly downside, not much upside.

  7. Mike Fortunato - May 22, 2010

    There was also a question about the medical basis for being prescribed this drug. In the US, we can now no longer buy over the counter anti-asthma ephedrine without signing for it. The freely available product is the false version of it, pseudoephedrine. Both are used for asthma, but the freely available product is less effective — and has no discernible performance effects. So any athlete using an inhaler or pill for breathing problems may be risking an anti-doping violation.

  8. Who's your daddy - May 22, 2010

    A note to Jack Karbens……everything I know about steroids, indicate a 3% improvemnt. At the world class level; we’re talking about three tenths of a second, over 100 meters. I do not condone their usage; even after a drop in our natural HGH levels; as we age. They will not make an ordnary runner into something extroidanary. For most of us; it’s only a difference at the highest level. That’s why you see them in people such as Marion Jones. They’re usually taken by someone who’s trying to hang on. At the masters level; would you want to risk your health for a medal ????

  9. Pat Logan - May 22, 2010

    Ephedrine is one of those drugs that is very easy to take without being aware of it. It’s fairly common is cold and flu remedies that have a decongestant in them and also used by asthmatics and hay-fever sufferers. It’s present in certain sports drinks and meal-replacement bars too.

    On the otherhand, Ephedrine is also an key ingredient of some illegal dietary supplements. Diego Maradona was famously banned after getting caught with this drug in his body during the 1994 World Cup.

    Only Geraldine can say whether she was seeking to gain an advantage or not but this episode reminds us all to read the packaging carefully when buying sports supplements abroad.

  10. geraldine - May 23, 2010

    Thank you Susan for your very honest support and opinion I enjoyed competing with you too and hope to compete with you in San Francisco you are strong and also very talented you will always be one to watch I will have to keep training hard to stay ahead of you, pity we don’t meet in Hungary in July at the Europeans it would be nice to chat and catch up on all the gossip!

  11. Bernie White - May 24, 2010

    As many others will say only geraldine knows what or why it was in her system. I sure from competing against her she does not need anything to help her win. She is a tough competitor.

  12. Heike Neumann - June 1, 2010

    I’am very disappointed. I was two times the fourth in hepthatlon (Lubljana, Lahti, no doping controls)and i know how difficult the second day of a hepthatlon is. I’v never took any medical or substances but i can imagine that this ephidrine has an effect.
    Geraldine, i remember you as a very tough competitor. You even gave me consults during the competion. Came back and be clean please.
    All this doping cases destroy my pleasure on sports.
    We need more controls.

  13. Bertie Ahern - June 1, 2010

    Geraldine is clean.

  14. SEAN KELLY - June 8, 2010

    I have known Geraldine for 25 years. I have worked in the gym business since I was 18 (not telling my age, but suffice it to say “that was a long time ago”).
    In that time I have worked with many olympians, both Irish and other nationalities, and I have seen cheats at first hand too I am sorry to say… However, Geraldine is not one of them. She is one of the most driven and dedicated people I have ever met.

    She would not even drink a cup of coffee because of caffiene. She does not use stimulants, I am absolutely adamant about that.

    She is on a natural high all the time, and the positive energy and wholesome goodness that radiates from her, both motivates and inspires others.

    She is one of the unsung heros of our time, who has for many years given of herself to those less fortunate, and has never shirked away from helping young athletes achieve their goals.

    I believe that she took over the counter medication for an asthma attack that contained the banned substance, and although she is happier to have her life than the medals, I know she is terribly upset that there are those who would besmirch her good name, and that her character has been impuned without being afforded the same level of publicity to present her side of the story.

    Sadly, it will be the world of athletics that will be the poorer for not having Geraldine in it.

    I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate her for her innumerable achievements during her long career, console her in this time of anguish, and reassure her that I will always stand by her and be her friend.

    Sean Kelly

  15. clifford taylor - August 1, 2010

    Having met Geraldine and spent some time with her I know that she is an extremely dedicated athlete and beautiful personality.I totally believe she is clean and that her account of the situation is honest and correct. I am a fellow multi discipline athlete and am amazed at her training regime. Her past performances speak for themselves. I met some athletes who doubt her cleaness and can only put that down to petty jealousy as she is so popular. I have studied the mind and personality for 46 years and believe Geraldine is a beautiful being with high ethical standards.I am priveledged to be her friend.

  16. Geraldine - August 1, 2010

    Wow, I have been so busy I had not looked at this site for a while and I am thankful for the many true friends I have that are not afraid to speak out honestly in my support, thank you again for that. I hope my love of people, life and my smiles, laughter and encouragement is enough to repay your continued friendship and support.
    For those who wish to know how my health has been: from January 15th 2010 I had visited my G.P. and complained of illness relating to reduced peak flow and nasal symptoms including allergies,thirteen times before flying to Canada. I have now been referred to the top chest specialist in Northern Ireland in The Mater Hospital in Belfast who after almost three hours of examinations and tests confirmed Sinusitis, Rhinitis and is doing more test on Bronchitis and asthma to get to the root and cause of mt problems. This specialist doctor is the best I have come across in my seventeen years of suffering from asthma. Along with a nasal decongestant and two inhalers He diagnosed allergy test to help improve my chest and breathing problems. While i await more tests and results I have been attending a salt clinic in Omeath in County Louth. This very professional clinic have taken a personal interest in my case and how I feel before and after training and competitions treating me regularly for the symptoms I had. As the salt helps to break down and clear infections in the ears throat and nose I am finding great improvement since my treatments. I have run faster, thrown further and not collapsed in a race since Canada. I have been drug tested since Canada and have happily ran 2.25.4 in the 800m nothing fantastic but a two second improvement from Canada, I also threw the javelin 31.9 over a meter more than in Canada in March, ran 67 in the 400m hurdles two seconds faster than last year in Lahti Finland.
    I finished second in the European Heptathlon behind DR.Katlin Deak please take the time to look up this fantastic athlete and her medals in the High jump joint 1.64 Gold in 80m Hurdles in 12.01 Gold in Triple jump 13.03, Gold in Long Jump over 6 meter Yes the list goes on. It is a privilege to compete against class like that not forgetting bronze medalist Claudia from Switzerland getting married this month,congratulations to her. She went on to win bronze, silver and Gold in the 100,80mH, 200 and 400m with more outstanding classy performances.I feel like Nemo the little fish in a big sea.
    Tonight I am sitting in my Kitchen with my daughter Nicole. I have just won the 2010 Senior Irish Heptathlon Championships and for those of you reading this I raise my glass and toast you my friends from days gone by like the classy Bernie White Irish masters 800m record Holder for the battles we fought and the ones we have yet to face, to Sean Kelly his wife and family may your kindness and generosity to others be always returned in more ways than you expect.

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