SCOTS Olympics hero Yvonne Murray last night said it would “mean the world” to win her marathon fight for silver medal recognition – as her MP wrote to the International Olympic Committee (IOP) urging it to take action.

Now known as Yvonne Murray-Mooney, the athletics ace came third in the 3,000m race in Seoul in 1988, behind Tetyana Samolenko of the USSR and Paula Ivan of Romania.

However, Samolenko was exposed as a drugs cheat five years later and, backed by her husband Tom Mooney, the bronze medalist is now fighting to have her bronze upgraded to a silver.

An official request to the IOC was rejected last month.

As the Rio Olympics opened last night, the runner hit out at the committee’s decision, saying: “The IOC have given their reasons for refusing my petition although I totally disagree with them. The IOC stated that they cannot prove that Samolenko was doping while competing in Seoul 1988. You don’t start taking drugs after you win four world titles and three Olympic medals.

“Basically, the IOC don’t want to know or are burying their heads in the sand and hope that the problem will go away.”

Adding that the medal upgrade would “mean the world”, she went on: “It would reaffirm my feeling that I always knew that my run was a gold medal performance.”

As many as 271 Russian athletes are eligible to compete at the Rio Games, despite bans for some of the nation's competitors.

The World Anti-Doping Agency had recommended a blanket ban on the team after a state-run drug scandal emerged, but Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, said his would be the “cleanest team” at the tournament.

Samolenko was amongst several athletes found guilty of cheating in 1993, but was allowed to retain her titles and medals.

Mooney wrote to the IOC on his wife’s behalf last year, arguing that this decision should be overturned because Samolenko was likely doping at the 1988 Games.

However, a letter received last month stated that “it is not acceptable to condemn someone for supposed behaviour in 1988 ... based on the behaviour of such person in 1992.

“Despite the fact that you may have reasonable grounds to be suspicious, we believe doing so would create an untenable precedent and would be contrary to the application of due process and natural justice.”

The couple’s MP Marion Fellows has now written to Lord Coe urging him to take action, describing Murray-Mooney’s case as a “severe miscarriage of justice”.

She said: “Any athlete who is found guilty of doping has brought the name of sport and their discipline into disrepute. They are undeserving of holding the title of Olympic Champion and should therefore have all historical awards stripped of them.

“I believe that removing all historical medals of disgraced athletes would contribute greatly to the deterrence of doping in sports. We must also consider the great efforts of athletes like Yvonne who have trained their entire lives to compete fairly against their competitors. We cannot allow doping athletes to retain their titles. We must make sure that those who have demonstrated both ability and sportsmanlike conduct are recognised for their qualities.”

Mooney said the change would also reflect the magnitude of his wife’s achievement and serve as an inspiration to young people. He said: “She came from a council estate and worked hard. If she can do it, they can too.”

Describing her time at the top of athletics, Murray-Mooney said competing in Seoul was “every athlete’s dream”, adding: “I was elated at first of all competing at my first Olympic Games and even more so getting on the rostrum and winning an Olympic medal.

“I remember telling my family while watching the Moscow Olympics in 1980 that I would be competing at the Olympics and they all laughed. Eight years later I was on the start line at the Seoul Olympics.

“We are very grateful for Marion’s support in the petition and we will see where it takes us. Whatever the outcome, at least I can look myself in the mirror and know that all that I achieved in the sport was through honest hard work and dedication and not performance-enhancing drugs.”

One of bravest performances ever given by a Scot on track

By Martin Hannan

REGARDLESS of whether she ever gets the silver medal denied her by a cheat, Yvonne Murray’s run to win bronze in the 3,000m at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul remains one of the bravest performances ever given by a Scottish athlete on the track. The record books show that she finished third behind Tetyanan Samolenko of the USSR and Paula Ivan of Romania, but in 1993 the former was exposed as a drugs cheat and it now seems that she was a probable beneficiary of the state-sponsored doping programme of the USSR.

Interestingly, the woman now known as Tetyana Volodymyrivna Apaychev was actually from the Ukraine, but back then she was running for the Soviet Union. The current scandal involves Russian testers and laboratories, but they are the same that who served the USSR.

In the heat and humidity of South Korea, Murray was rated only an outside chance for a medal on form and time, but she started well at a very fast pace with Mary Slaney of the USA out in front, and Samolenko hovering not far behind.

Slaney could not cope and dropped back at the 2,000m mark, at which point Murray was in second running a superb tactical race.

Commentating on the BBC, David Coleman sounded surprised that Murray was in front at the bell, but noted that she did not have the fast finish of Ivan and especially Samolenko, then the world’s leading middle-distance runner, who cruised by Ivan in the home straight to win.

Coleman called it “a very good bronze medal” for the Scot, but that was an understatement because Murray may have been behind the big two, but she was ahead of the rest of a class field.