Former world champion Derval O'Rourke has admitted that she was slightly perplexed by the seating arrangements between athletes and officials on the way to Olympic Games throughout her career.
We featured a story earlier in the summer that confirmed that Pat Hickey flew to Rio in First Class at enormous expense while the Irish Olympians sat in Economy.
Confirmed: Irish Athletes Flew Economy As Pat Hickey Lived It Up In First Class https://t.co/e23AeCp7d0
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) August 17, 2016
O'Rourke was speaking to Roisin Ingle of 'The Irish Times' for the 'Roisin Meets' podcast. And while she didn't mention Hickey - she didn't see him at either the Beijing or London Games - she did say that she questioned the priority exhibited to those in suits over those in singlets.
I just thought, there's people who have won Olympic medals who aren't sitting in first class and they're the important people. They're the people who represent me and who represent the country.
In a typically honest interview, O'Rourke opined that those at "the top of sports organisations should be in it for the love of it".
Maybe that's very naive of me but it should be a bit of a privilege to have a job in that position...(such officials should ask) does this add value for the athletes? It shouldn't be about filling your own pockets.
And while she refused to be drawn on it further, she did seem to somewhat connect the fact that she doesn't "work in Olympic sport now" with the fact that she "was very vocal" during the course of her career representing Ireland at top-class international level.
The Cork woman, releasing her latest book 'The Fit Foodie', thinks that athletes don't currently receive enough payback for their efforts in terms of commercial opportunities and being able to make use of the rare "shop window" they have in an Olympic cycle; for example, O'Rourke believes they are restricted by being tied to representing the commercial partners of the Olympic Council - despite often not being individually linked to these partners.
And she pointed to the Gaelic Players' Association and the Irish Rugby Union Players' Association as examples that Olympic athletes should follow in establishing their own union to protect their interests.
Inevitably, the conversation turned to doping. While O'Rourke claimed that she feels not a "massively high" proportion of her opponents doped over the course of her own career (one notable exception being Nevin Yanit), athletes should not be the ones attempting to defend their own sports from the sinister fingertips of doping.
There's certain people you would always have question marks over - and a lot of times they were never caught...but the vast majority of times when I got beaten, the girls were just better.
I think WADA, it's their job to make sport cleaner. It's not individual athletes' jobs. The athletes that test positive, they're low-hanging fruit. Who's their coaches? Who are their agents? What's their federation? How much do they get drug tested in their own country? I think just testing athletes positive, getting them out of the sport and then letting them back in - that's not resolving anything. You have to go higher up.
You can listen to the full 'Roisin Meets' podcast episode with Derval O'Rourke below.