Ciara Mageean has said it was “crushing” for some people to raise doping questions on social media after she smashed the Irish 1500m record.
Mageean took 2.22 seconds off the previous record, set by Sonia O’Sullivan 27 years ago, at a Diamond League meeting in Brussels in September.
“It was very tough,” Mageean told BBC Sport when asked how it felt to hear about comments that appeared on social media after she produced the record time.
Mageean’s new Irish record – 3:56.63 – was part of a remarkable summer for the Portaferry runner, who won Commonwealth and European silver before her first first sub four-minute run over the distance helped her defeat Laura Muir to win the meeting.
“I wasn’t aware of those things until the very end of my season because whenever I did find out, it was a bit crushing, it was upsetting.
“The week after, when I had finished my season, I was a bit down, because I was like ‘why are people saying this?’.”
She added: “I know the athlete that I am, that I toe the line as a clean athlete. I want to hang my spikes up proud of the athlete that I am, and I will.
“I don’t think it will ever make it easier for me, for people to ask such things. They are entitled to their own opinions but I know that I am clean and that performance is all based on me.
“It is tough, but athletics is a sport in which we are very open and honest about drug cheats in our sport and we hold them to high account and we make them accountable for the mistakes and choices they have made.”
Mageean followed up her impressive win over Muir – who had beaten her to gold at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships – with another strong performance in the Diamond League 1500m final a week later, finishing second behind Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon in Zurich.
Her Irish record of 3:56.63 was considerably faster than the 30-year-old had run at that distance in races building up to that meeting, but she said anyone who had followed her season would have known she was capable of such a big performance.
And she added that a message from her coach, Helen Clitheroe, helped her deal with those posing questions about her record-breaking run.
“It [her record-breaking run] didn’t come as a surprise to me,” she continued.
“I knew I could go sub-58 and I thought I could go sub-57. I knew I was in really good shape so the .56 I was really ecstatic with.”
Olympic final target to make up for disappointments
Currently enjoying a trip home to County Down from her Manchester base, Mageean spoke of how satisfied she was with her performances this season – but has her eyes firmly fixed on her next two big goals.
Having chosen not to compete at this summer’s delayed 2021 World Championships, she is looking forward to the Worlds in Budapest next year – then, of course, there is the Paris Olympics in 2024, where she will be determined to reach a final for the first time in what would be her third attempt.
“I’ve been disappointed by the two Olympics that I have been to. I haven’t got my rings tattooed on me yet because I was always disappointed afterwards,” she explained.
“That might change as I’ve been trying to convince myself and Helen, and everyone who went, that it was an achievement being there, and hopefully we can go together and get that [the tattoo] done.
“Yes, the big focus is the World Championships next year and the Paris Olympics. How do I replicate the performances I have had now? I don’t have the answer but it is something myself and my team around me are certainly gong to try to figure out.
“Hopefully I can do it because that is the new pressure, to be able to be as good as myself again, to emulate that 3.56 and to continue to perform at this level that I know I have the potential to do.”
And, after a summer that saw her break that Irish 1500m record and win those silver medals, which did she enjoy most?
“The time is obviously fantastic and it has been a monkey on my back for some time,” she added.
“People in athletics would say that time means so much more than the medals in your hand but to be honest I always came into athletics to win medals. It is my aim to stand on the podium.
“To be able win a medal for Northern Ireland and Ireland in the same year, to represent them both is truly special. I wouldn’t trade these for any time, I definitely wouldn’t.”