Sharron Davies’s family ‘dipped medal in gold’ after losing out to drugs cheat
Sharron Davies was famously forced to settle for silver behind gold medal winner Petra Schneider in the 400m individual medley.
So her daughter and her father Terry, who was her swimming coach at the time, took her silver medal off to be gold-plated to try to make up for her disappointment.
“I don’t have my gold, but a few years ago my dad and my daughter took my medal off and had it plated and put it under the Christmas tree,” Sharron told the Kaye Adams How to be 60 podcast.
“So I do have an Olympic gold medal and when I take it out and show people I always go: ‘don’t rub it off! It costs a lot to put it back on again.’”
Communist bloc swimmer Petra Schneider was more than ten seconds quicker than Davies when she set a new world record at the Moscow Olympics. She later admitted doping as part of a programme of state-sponsored cheating, but retained her gold medal.
Sharron, 60, who now works as a sports commentator, has urged swimming’s international body to deliver justice to those robbed of medals by the East German drugs programme.
She said: “I’m angry that things weren’t done at the time. We did try to speak about it. We look back with rose-coloured glasses and go: ‘we obviously didn’t know they were cheating,’ but we did. We absolutely knew they were cheating, but nothing was done.”
Sharron, who is mum to three children Elliott, 29, Grace, 25, and Finlay, 16 and has a three year-old granddaughter, has hit the headlines in recent years for campaigning against transwomen competing in female sporting competitions, arguing that they hold a biological advantage. But she told How to be 60 that speaking out had wrecked her career.
“Work just disappeared,” she said frankly. “The agencies were scared to employ me because they got absolutely pummelled by the activists. They rang all the charities I worked for, they rang the BBC daily, they rang every single company I had anything to do with. They just tried to make my life absolute hell.”
Explaining her stance, she added: “Because of the East German stuff, which I had all of my sporting career, I have this big thing about fairness. Sport should be fair and if it’s fair for men, it should be fair for women too.
“It was never an anti-transgender situation; I’ve got friends who’ve got a transgender son. It’s a pro-female thing. We had to fight so hard for our rights and our equality. We don’t have it in so many fields, and we certainly don’t have it in sport.”
Sharron claimed she had the support of dozens of other sports stars, but that many were afraid to speak out. She revealed she wrote to the International Olympic Committee expressing concern about fairness in sport four years ago.
“And there were 60 names on that letter,” she told How to be 60.
“Every single one of those names you would recognise, every single one of them was an Olympic medallist, asking the IOC to do the research first. And only five of that 60 have ever put their head above the parapet.”
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