By Ian Bred, Norfolk Correspondent
The worldwide anti-doping agency (WADA) has handed down a four-year ban to Norfolk, following repeat doping failures by several leading county gurners.
WADA had originally intended to take action only against specific individuals, however county officials were also implicated via interference with laboratory test results at the most recent Gurning World Championship.
The event, held at Egremont Crab Fair, was once again won by 17-times world gurning champion Tommy Mattinson, who was relieved to have won, despite the cheating by several of the Norfolk-based contestants.
He said: “It takes a lot of training and effort to pull championship-winning faces and I’m horrified that some contestants try to take the easy root to victory.”
The ban means that no athletes can compete under the county name or use the Norfolk County Arms as a visual identifier. The Norfolk county anthem or other songs associated with the county – such as the Singing Postman, will not be allowed either.
The news has disappointed Norfolk-born Queen drummer Roger Taylor, as We are the Champions is now one of the banned pieces of music. However, as has been pointed out by many, this will have no actual impact, as Norfolk have never been champions of anything.
It is believed that individual athletes who can prove they haven’t doped may be allowed to compete but under a neutral banner. Several “honest” Norfolk Gurners have already decided to compete again next year and have decided to use the identifier #notinmyface as their team name.
WADA spokesperson Lorraine Fisher, 34, said: “Rules are rules, so Norfolk gurners will simply have to grin and bear it.”