Shot put champion stripped of Athens 2004 title as IOC catches up with cheats

Wednesday, 05 December 2012
By Duncan Mackay at the Palace Hotel in Lausanne

Yuriy Bilonoh 050413December 5 - Ukraine's Yuriy Bilonoh has been stripped of his Olympic shot put title from Athens 2004, one of four athletes to lose their medals after retested samples from eight years ago were discovered to be positive.

The other athletes stripped of their medals by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ruling Executive Board are Russian shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova and Belarus discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus, who both won bronze medals, and Belarussian hammer thrower Ivan Tsikhan, who claimed a silver medallist.

Three-times world champion Tsikhan had also lost his bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Games but the decision was overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport because of a laboratory procedural error.

A case involving Russian weightlifter Oleg Perepetchenov, who won a bronze medal in the -77kg category, is still pending. 

All four tested positive for anabolic steroids after were they were among more than 100 samples from the Games eight years ago that had been kept in large deep freeze in the basement of the anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne that were reanalysed for banned substances with more modern testing methods.

The IOC stores samples for eight years to allow for retesting for newly discovered substances or for those substances for which there was no test available at the time.

"You always want to wait until science gives you the most sensitive tests," IOC President Jacques Rogge said here.

"When we retested the athletes for Athens they had undergone testing that was negative [during Athens]."

"Since then there has been progress, we were informed about better tests and new tests.

"The more time you have, the bigger the chances that science will deliver better tests."

With Bilonoh losing his medal, doping has now claimed both men's and women's shot put winners of the competition staged at Ancient Olympia, a move that was aimed to bring the modern version back to its ancient roots.

Yuriy Bilonoh celebrates winning the Olympic gold medal in the shot put at Ancient Olympia in 2004Yuriy Bilonoh celebrates winning the Olympic gold medal in the shot put at Ancient Olympia in 2004

Irina Khorzanenko lost her shot put medal after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol.

The total tally of doping cases from the Athens Olympics is now 31 after 26 positive tests at the time, which was the most in any Games.

"Athletes who cheat by using doping substances must understand that just because they get away with it one day, there is a very good chance that they will be caught in the future," said World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey.

"The retesting and subsequent decisions of the IOC are proof of that."

The IOC said it will ask the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to get the four medals back and readjust the results and rankings from the Athens Games.

Until then, no decision will be taken on reallocating the medals.

Adam Nelson of the United States finished second in the shot put in Olympia behind Bilonoh and would stand to move up to gold.

Nelson and Bilonoh finished with the same best throw, but the Ukrainian was declared the winner because his second-best attempt was longer.

It was the first time an Olympic field event was decided by a second-best mark.

Adam NelsonAdam Nelson (left) stands to be promoted to the gold medal position in the shot after Yuriy Bilonoh's positive test for steroids at the 2004 Olympics

"I'm still processing this one, but the 2004 Olympics were a really special moment for me," Nelson told the New York Times after being told that Bilonoh had been disqualified.

"My wife was there, a bunch of my friends from college, my family.

"We competed at the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

"The downside of this is I feel like our country was robbed of a medal at the relevant time.

"One of the biggest parts of an Olympic career is when you hear your anthem and see your flag when you stand on that podium.

"That's something I can never replace."

Denmark's Joachim Olsen is set to be awarded the silver medal and Manuel Martinez of Spain the bronze.

In the hammer Turkey's Esref Apak will be promoted from bronze to sliver medal and Vadzim Dzevyatusky of Belarus takes bronze.

In the women's events, the discus and shot bronze medals should go respectively to Vera Pospisilova-Cechlova of the Czech Republic and Nadezhda Ostapchuk of Belarus.

Ironically Ostapchuk was disqualified earlier this year after winning gold in the shot at London 2012 for testing positive for the banned anabolic agent metenolone - she is presently serving a one-year ban.

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