IT is a week now since news broke that Mark Dry had been banned for four years for an anti-doping violation. A week on, it still makes no sense.

The hammer thrower was not where his ‘whereabouts’ form stated he would be when the drug testers called in to see him and subsequently lied, saying he had been away fishing, rather than telling the truth and admitting he had come home to Scotland.

One missed test results in a warning, but rather than leave it at that, Dry came clean and admitted his untruth.

It was a move that would prove catastrophic.

Had Dry done nothing, he would have been given a black mark for missing a test and been able to carry on as normal, with three missed tests in 18 months permitted before any punishment is dished out.

As Dry lied, he was handed a suspension, which he appealed, winning his case late last year. However, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) then appealed themselves, and when it was announced last week that UKAD had won that appeal, the 32-year-old was hit with a four-year ban.

This was disastrous for Dry, with it almost certainly ending the double-Commonwealth Games medallist’s career. But his case also raises a wider issue when it comes to anti-doping, and highlights why there is so little trust when it comes to clean sport.

Dry was stupid for lying, but he is guilty of nothing more than that. There is no suggestion that he is doping, yet he has been given a ban equivalent to someone who failed a test for steroids.

And the fact that had Dry said nothing, he would have had no sanction at all highlights just how disproportionate this punishment is. Give him a ban for lying, fine – but there is no way it should be four years.

Most galling for Dry and his supporters though, with the level of support he has received from fellow athletes as well as the wider sporting community almost unprecedented, are the double standards.

As Dry said himself in a statement: “Other athletes lie publicly, they change their stories and they are OK to continue with the sport. Why are they persecuting me in this manner?”

It is a fair question.

There are numerous examples that spring to mind of higher-profile athletes committing far greater crimes, yet receiving lesser punishments than that which has been handed to Dry.

The wider perception of the Scot’s case, rightly or wrongly, is that the lower profile you are, the more likely you are to be hammered by the authorities whereas the higher profile you are, the more likely you are to be met with leniency.

Prime examples are Christine Ohuruogu missing three tests and being given only a one-year ban, while Mo Farah, and others, have missed two tests and received no ban, yet Dry’s one test, coupled with a lie which was deemed to have no fraudulent intention, was enough to cost him four years.

This certainly looks like Dry’s case is easy pickings, it’s low-hanging fruit. It is hard not to believe the hope is that by hammering some athletes, it looks like a strong stance is being taken across the board on anti-doping.

Instead of the wider public believing that drug cheats will be severely dealt with, there is now an overriding belief that it is one rule for one, another rule for others.

Dry has vowed to fight his ban – with his only avenue now seeming to be the Court of Arbitration for Sport. I, along with many others, hope he wins his battle to clear his name.

But the wider issue is that if sport is to rebuild its reputation, going for the small fish while apparently treating the big ones entirely differently is not the way to go.


Over the past decade, Britain’s track cyclists have seemed certainties to return from major championships weighed down by medals.

However, last weekend’s World Championships were, in comparison to past global championships, a major disappointment for GB.

Having been so used to topping the medal table, the Brits left Berlin in a relatively lowly seventh place in the medal table, picking up only one gold, two silvers and a bronze.

Chris Hoy, who knows exactly what it takes to win major championship silverware, has warned that GB cyclists will not dominate the Tokyo Olympics, which are now less than five months away, in the manner they have dominated Olympic Games in the past.

Hoy suggested GB have “plateaued” and that other nations have improved in recent times faster than the Brits have.

There is now considerable pressure on the British squad to up their game before Tokyo, as Team GB rely heavily on the track cyclists to contribute significantly to the overall medal tally.

Improvements are almost certain in Tokyo, in part because GB did not use their Olympic kit, which is always worth a few percent improvement, in Berlin

However, there is only so much that can be done in the space of a few months, particularly as the rest of the world are now starting to believe GB riders are beatable.

It remains to be seen just how close to their best ever Olympic tallies GB will get in Tokyo, and perhaps the lowered expectations will help. But it certainly seems the days of half-a-dozen or more cycling golds are now over.