Goucher stated she hadn’t deliberate to pay a lot consideration to this yr’s Beijing Games. The determine skating and controversy over Valieva sucked her in. She watches with a grimace.
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“This whole situation is just a slap in the face to all the clean athletes,” Goucher stated, talking this week by cellphone from her house in Boulder, Colo.
What turned clear as we spoke is one thing value remembering: The psychological burden that weighs on athletes who play by the guidelines as they sq. off towards those that don’t. “We’re asking the other skaters to be mentally strong beyond what anybody should ever be asked,” she stated. “We’re asking them to say, ‘Hey, this person has had a positive test, but you know, you need to ignore that and go in there and still believe you can do it. Even though this other athlete potentially has an advantage that you could never have, rise to the occasion. It’s ridiculous.”
Goucher by no means gained an Olympic medal. But she did have a breakout efficiency at the 2007 world championships in Osaka, Japan, inserting third in the 10,000-meter run, turning into the first American to win a medal in the occasion.
The bronze was hailed by the American observe group as proof that distance runners born and raised in the United States may compete with anybody. But nowadays, she will’t assist excited about what her profession would have been like if she’d stood on that podium and acquired the silver medal as an alternative of the bronze, a seemingly small distinction however one that might have meant not simply additional prize and sponsorship cash but in addition additional self-belief.
She can’t assist excited about it as a result of, in 2015, a re-examined blood check confirmed the second-place finisher in the Osaka race, Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegasse, had doped. After lengthy appeals by her rival, Goucher’s bronze turned silver. Track officers despatched it to her in 2020, 13 years after the race. When she noticed the small field arrive in the mail, realizing what was inside, she stated she couldn’t open it. There had been too many feelings: pleasure, frustration, anger, reduction. Goucher and her husband, Adam, one other former Olympic distance runner, together with their younger son, held an impromptu awards ceremony of their front room. Friends hopped on Zoom to congratulate her.