Armstrong puts drugs ban behind him to claim third world title

Saturday, 23 February 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Canada World Wheelchair Curling Championship gold medallistsFebruary 23 - Jim Armstrong skipped Canada as they today won the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Sochi, an event he at one time feared he would miss because of a doping ban.

The Canadians, who also included Dennis Thiessen, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet and alternate Mark Ideson, defeated Sweden 4-3 at the Ice Cube Curling Centre in a competition that was a test event for next year's Olympics and Paralympics at the same venue.

Armstrong, a 62-year-old former dentist from Cambridge in Ontario, looked like he would be ruled out of the Championships after being suspended for 18 months by the World Curling Federation (WCF) last February following a positive test for Tamoxifen.

But the ban was cut to just six months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last September after ruling that the WCF "did not properly exercise its discretion" when passing judgement. 

Armstrong claimed that the banned drug had been prescribed for his late wife when she was receiving treatment for breast cancer and had got mixed up with his own medication.

It was Armstrong's thrid world title having also skipped Canada to success at Vancouver in 2009 and Prague in 2011.

Jim Armstrong world championships Sochi February 2013Canada's Jim Armstrong won his third World Championship gold medal in Sochi in an event at the Ice Cube Curling Centre, which will host the Paralympics next year

Armstrong, who in 2011 was fined $30,000 (£19,000/€23,000) by an American court after selling counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs, is hoping that the victory sets him up for a successful defence of the Paralympic title he won in Vancouver. 

"It was a great game," said Armstrong.

"I think it was probably one of the best wheelchair curling games ever, very entertaining and obviously very close.

"Very exciting and really what our sport needs.

"It speaks well for the facility, it's a new facility.

"I really think Sochi should be proud.

"Their volunteers are absolutely unbelievable.

"It's a tremendous experience and I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to come back next year."

It was the second time Sweden, skipped by Jalle Jungnell with Glenn Ikonen, Patrick Kallin, Kicki Ulander and Gert Erlandsson as alternate, had won the silver medal, having also lost to Armstrong's Canada in 2009.

Earlier today, China won the bronze playoff medal game beating the United States 6-5.

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Related stories
February 2013: Exclusive - Curling President confident ahead of World Wheelchair Championship in Sochi
September 2012: Canadian Paralympic gold medallist eligible to compete again after doping ban cut
March 2012: Curler suspended after failing drug test
March 2011: Disappointment for Scotland as Armstrong's Canada rise to the occasion
February 2011:  Paralympic gold medallist fined $30,000 for selling fake sex drugs
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