Geraldine Finnegan finds rainbow at end of doping-case ordeal
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Published Date: 25 August 2010
By James Rogers
LOCAL athlete Geraldine Finnegan insists she is delighted to have put her “nightmare” doping scandal behind her after claiming five medals â€“ including four gold â€“ with season best results at last week’s National Championships in Tullamore.
The Dunleer AC member â€“ a World Heptathlon, World Indoor and European champion â€“ had her reputation brought into question in May when she had two medals stripped from her for an anti-doping rule violation at the World Masters Championships, which were held last March in Canada.
Finnegan was deemed to have tested positive for the banned drug ephedrine but always claimed that her achievements were “gained through my own endeavours and hard training.”
The mother-of-one suffers from asthma and allergies and said she had bought a nasal decongestant before one of her races in a local health shop in British Colombia which, she claimed, the shop manager said was legal.
Since that episode Geraldine has tackled her problems with asthma and allergies with the help of Belfast-based specialist Dr Joe Kidney and she claims her results in Tullamore prove that her ability is natural rather than as a result of performance enhancers.
“My year has been one of ups and downs,” Geraldine told The Dundalk Democrat this week.
“Since I was drug-tested though I’ve improved my times and that’s because I’ve got the right medication and theraphy.
“Last week in Tullamore I beat my opposition by 18 seconds. I won gold in the javelin and silver in the shot putt as well as gold in the 100m, 400m and 800m.
“I ran the 800m in a time of 2:24 which was a season’s best. When I was in Canada, when I was supposedly on drugs, I had a time of 2:37 and I still won with that.
“Basically my problem over the years has been with asthma and allergies. The medication I was on last March was a dry decongestant but that doesn’t improve your performance.
“I couldn’t believe it when I failed the drugs test. The whole episode was a bit of a nightmare.
“Asthma and allergies are in my family and when you have them and are involved in sport it’s really important that you get the correct medication and I wasn’t given that.
“It’s only now that I’m getting to the bottom of it and what exactly I’m allergic to. I’m absolutely ecstatic now that I know the causes of it and what therapies work for me.”
Finnegan admitted that the doping scandal had been a testing time but said she felt stronger having gone through it.
“I’m very lucky to have great sponsors and great people behind me. I work in a lot of the schools and had a lot of calls of support from teachers and students as well.
“I’m just delighted that Dr Kidney helped me solve my problem. At the end of every race I was collapsing but now I’m finishing and for me it feels like a lap of honour because I’m not dying after the run,” she said.