Odriozola: “It is still not clear to me that Marta Domínguez was doping”

NThere is nothing left of Fellini in this European Championship with a huge stadium and soulless stands. No trace of that pulsating and exuberant Rome that the brilliant director from Rimini portrayed like no one else. Perhaps that inherent chaos that makes a good part of Italy such a fascinating country. José María Odriozola (Pontevedra, 1939) agrees and fondly remembers the figure of Primo Nebioloespecially since he just ate with Luciano Barraright-hand man of the everlasting president of the former International Athletics Federation (IAAF), who ended up paying the price for the scandal of John the Evangelists in the pit the length of the 1987 World Cup in Rome.

“Nebiolo spoke better Spanish than English and was very happy about the Spanish triumphs”recalls Odriozola, president of the Spanish Athletics Federation for 27 years -“almost 28”, he points out- between 1989 and 2016. The Galician is not very given to giving interviews since he left office but he is open to dialogue and He displays a brilliant mind, which has undoubted merit at 84 years old.. “I don’t run anymore but I walk a lot on the trails in Aravaca,” his neighborhood in Madrid.

When you look back, what is your assessment of your presidency?
I had many very gratifying moments although I also had great disappointments, especially with the great Spanish athletes who ended up being sanctioned for doping under my mandate. Some ended up sitting and crying in my office and I always advised them not to get into lawsuits because that was very expensive, they would go bankrupt and it would be of no use. Now, however, I go to the championships and I enjoy it much more because it is no longer my responsibility and I am more relaxed.
Are there any particularly fond memories?
All those related to Barcelona’92 but especially Fermín Cacho’s gold medal in the 1,500 meters. That victory was ecstasy, because of the way he won in such an emblematic event. Then, when the 25th anniversary was, no one remembered those of us who had organized athletics in those Games but I don’t care because what really matters to me is to continue enjoying athletics. I also keep the triplet in the Helsinki European marathon and Abel Antón’s first world gold in Goteborg.

The one who had a bestial interest in killing Marta Domínguez was the one who was then the director of the medical and anti-doping department of the IAAF, Dr. Gabriel Dollé, who years later was involved in bribes due to the Russian systematic doping scandal.

Does it still hurt you today that it is said that Odriozola did not do enough to stop those notorious doping cases?
If it really hurts. Raúl (Chapado), who is much more diplomatic than me, has been able to better handle these cases of irregularities in the biological passport due to the discrepancies between Spanish and sports laws. They accused us of hiding doping cases when in reality we could not report, by law, any open files. Another thing is that the athlete himself, via manager, leaked an alleged positive test to the press because he was interested in it for the same reasons. I felt screwed. Furthermore, the Federation had the obligation to help the athlete if there were doubts. I still have doubts today, and I say it openly, with the issue of Marta Domínguez. The one who had a bestial interest in killing Marta Domínguez was the one who was then the director of the medical and anti-doping department of the IAAF, Dr. Gabriel Dollé, who years later was involved in bribes due to the Russian systematic doping scandal. I had a brother, now deceased, who was a hematologist at the Ramón y Cajal hospital in Madrid and I gave him all the information I had about Marta Domínguez and he told me that he didn’t see anything strange. They were interpretable data and the aforementioned Dollé did not take into account the opinion of several experts who supported Marta’s innocence.

World Athletics’ idea of ​​eliminating the takedown table in jumping is nothing new. Juan Antonio Samaranch was already talking about it; he was a visionary

Was Marta one of those athletes who went to his office to cry for him?
No, Marta has a lot of character. I’m not going to say their names but they were a long-distance runner and a marathon runner, who were the best Spaniards of the time, so it’s easy to imagine who they were.
Is there an athlete who you feel betrayed your trust?
I didn’t take it personally because in many cases, the athletes who doped were those who were in the last stage of their professional career and had doubts.
Are we talking, for example, about Paquillo Fernández?
Exact. They even caught him with doping substances at home, so it was assumed that he was not only involved but also trafficking. He was one of those who got involved in legal issues and was giving us trouble with a very skilled lawyer.

I really liked the letter that Ana Peleteiro wrote defending the selection criteria, because she explains that they defend the athlete himself and avoid making decisions by hand.

It may be that some of those who criticize these strict criteria did not approve of taking all the athletes classified via ranking.
Of course. They would say what a wide sleeve.
In fact it happened to you sometimes.
Yes it’s true. In my time there were also selection criteria but sometimes I got carried away by certain exceptional situations that I knew closely and we took athletes to the championships who had not met those criteria.
In Paris athletics there will be no Russian and Belarusian athletes. What do you think about it?
My opinion is that if we do not allow Russia and Belarus to participate because of the war in Ukraine, which I think is fine, Israel should not be allowed to participate either. What is being done in Gaza, with the death of so many children, is also an invasion and is tremendous. We cannot have two measuring sticks.


Davide Piano

An experienced journalist with an insatiable curiosity for global affairs on newshubpro

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button