Olympic runner Nick Willis is not one to stay silent with his opinions.
Upon learning about the World Anti-Doping Agency report released Monday that alleges systemic doping among top Russian athletes, Willis, a New Zealand native who won the silver medal in the 1,500-meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, unleashed a series of tweets in which he called the sport of track and field “a complete joke.”
Willis continued: “Russian athletes are not the sole perpetrators. Let’s hope they investigate all the major players non-complicit in doping control” – a tweet that was retweeted by several professional runners, including Molly Huddle, who holds the American record in the 5,000-meters.
Other prominent figures in the sport, like former chief executive of New York Road Runners Mary Wittenberg, have called on International Association of Athletics Federations President Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, to step up and said that the latest controversy provides a “big opportunity/need for leadership.”
Steve Magness, a former Nike Oregon Project coach who has made doping allegations against his former employer Alberto Salazar, said that the “IAAF has lost any semblance of trust” and that “athletes must take a stand and be responsible for their sport.”
Several runners, like Willis, also expressed that Russian athletes are not the only culprits, but hope that the report is a step in the right direction for a sport that has been constantly tainted by doping controversies.
British Olympian Dai Greene tweeted his hopes for the sport.
Lincoln Shryack of the running Web site FloTrack wrote in a column Monday that the “investigation may ultimately alter much of what I thought I knew about our sport” and that “the fact is, when most people think about track, they think about doping.”
The potential bans brought on by the report could also have a ripple effect on runners who’ve just missed out on reaching the podium at races. American middle distance runner Alysia Montaño tweeted that she could possibly receive three new medals and upgrade another.
“This is a big, big scandal,” Montaño told the Post’s Adam Kilgore on Monday. “Many people will be affected by it. Specifically, me.”
“There’s so much lost,” she added. “Not just emotionally, but financially. There’s so much lost. You can’t get that back. It leaves you very, very sad at just these inhumane acts, unethical acts of people. You can’t wrap your head around why or how people could feel good about their efforts, knowing that they did it dishonestly.”