Olympic shot put champion among athletes who tested positive at Athens, claims German TV programme

Monday, 26 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Yuriy Bilonoh 050413November 26 - A German television programme has claimed that the five athletes from the Athens 2004 Olympics whose samples were found to be suspicious following retroactive testing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are all medallists, including Ukraine's shot put champion Yuriy Bilonoh.

The claim is made on inside sport, due to be broadcast tonight on ARD, who made the original allegations in April that the IOC had failed to retest any of the 3,667 samples stored after Athens and were in danger of missing the deadline of August 29, 2012, when the eight year statute of limiations expired. 

Only 110 samples were re-examined following that programme and aftewards the IOC admitted that five had returned analytical results.

It has now been revealed that Bilonoh, who won the shot put, which was held at the Ancient Olympia Stadium in celebration of Greece being the birthplace of the Olympics, is among those to have allegedly tested positive, all for anabolic steroids.

If the positive test is confirmed and he is disqualified, American Adam Nelson is in line to be upgraded to the gold medal having finished second. 

The others named in the ARD programme include women's shot putter Russia's Svetlana Krivelyova, who was awarded a bronze medal only after the winner, compatriot Irina Korzhanenko, tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol at the time and was disqualified.

Others named include Belarus' Irina Yatchenko, the bronze medallist in the discus, and Russian weightlifter Oleg Perepetchenov, who won a bronze medal in the -77kg category.

Irina Yatchenko 050413Belarus discus thrower Irina Yatchenko competing at Athens 2004, where she allegedly failed a drugs test

John Fahey, the President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, claims on the programme that the IOC had missed an opportunity by retesting such a small amount of samples.

Among those they did not retest, inside sport claims, is Justin Gatlin, winner of the 100 metres at Athens in 2004 but who was banned in 2006 for four years after testing positive for steroids. 

"Why bother keeping all the samples for eight years if you are not fully analysing them?" Fahey tells the programme. 

"Then, throw them out in the first place, save yourself money, save the space [in the laboratory]."

Dick Pound, the former President of WADA and a leading member of the IOC, claims that it was a wasted chance to catch more cheats.

"We missed an opportunity," he tells the programme.

"I would have hoped that five positives out of a 100-something tests would have encouraged the IOC to test further if we are trying to fight against doping in sport and have a zero tolerance as the IOC likes to say that it has."

The case of the fifth athlete named in the programme, Belarus' Ivan Tsikhan, the silver medallist in the hammer, was already public.

Ivan Tsikhan Adrian Annus Koji MurofushiIvan Tsikhan (left) on the medal podium at the Athens 2004 Olympics with the winner Adrian Annus of Hungary (centre) and runner-up Koji Murofushi of Japan (right) - Annus was later stripped of his title and Murofushi upgraded to champion

Tsikhan was originally third in Athens but upgraded to silver following a controversy involving the winner, Hungary's Adrian Annus, who refused to be retested after the competition and was stripped of his title, which was awarded to Japan's Koji Murofushi. 

Tsikhan and silver medalist and fellow Belarusian Vadim Devyatovskiy tested positive for abnormal levels of testosterone after hammer at Beijing 2008.

Both men were stripped of their medals by the IOC and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

If the Court had rejected their appeal, Tsikhan would have served a two-year suspension and been banned from London 2012.

But in June 2010 the CAS ruled in his favour and due to discrepancies in drug testing he was reawarded his bronze medal.

The CAS stated that he was not cleared of suspicion, insisting the verdict "should not be interpreted as an exoneration". 

But in May 2012 when banned substances were found in Tsikhan's samples, following the retesting, he was withdrawn from this year's Olympics.

The IOC refused to confirm the latest names mentioned in the German programme.

Six medallists, out of a record 26 positive doping cases, have already been caught from Athens 2004.

"The retesting is currently underway and therefore we would not comment on any individual cases until those informed have been properly informed," a spokesman told insidethegames.

"It would be unwise to jeopardise the process at this stage by further comment."

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