Australia’s Olympic TV network, 7Olympics, has just put out a short clip of footage from the London 2012 Olympics featuring home race walker Jared Tallent en route to his eventual golden glory in the 50km race walk - eventual in the sense that he had to wait until June 17, 2016, 1,405 days later, to claim the medal originally won by Sergey Kirdyapkin.
Kirdyapkin, one of six race-walkers later suspended by Russia’s anti-doping authorities due to doping offences, was banned for three years and two months in January 2015 but his sanction was back-dated to October 2012, allowing him to keep his Olympic title.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) appealed the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), however, describing the punishments handed to the six as "selective".
In March it was announced the IAAF's appeal had been successful and Kirdyapkin’s results from August 20 in 2009 to October 15 in 2012 declared void. Which meant there was gold rather than silver at the end of Tallent’s long and winding road.
The 7Olympics piece, entitled "A Special Tribute" to Jared Tallent, is sub-titled: What should have been. A piece of Olympic history, rewritten.
After setting the scene with shots of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony the focus moves to the 50km race itself as we see Tallent moving clear of all visible opposition.
The commentary has been masterfully re-dubbed by Channel 7’s Bruce McAvaney: “What a performance this has been. It’s a fitting reward. He’s quiet, he’s unassuming, but he’s got that inner determination that’s led him to this victory. It will be Australia’s 21st Olympic gold medal in track and field and he’s going to join some great names - like Betty and Shirley and Herb and Ralph - and now there’s Jared.”
The final shot is of Tallent on his knees after the finish line in The Mall, arms raised in rightful triumph as he joins the select Australian club which contains Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland, Herb Elliott and Ralph Doubell.
This history-correcting video package was played on Friday at the history-correcting medal ceremony which saw the 31-year-old receive his belated Olympic gold on Melbourne’s Treasury Steps.
In the same spirit, Tallent had already put together an informal video package of his own that was posted on Twitter by friends of his. In the footage he walks through his back garden and stands behind a marble step as a voice announces: “and the winner, from Australia - Jared Tallent.”
Tallent then mounts the mock podium and waves in traditional manner before a friend steps forward to shake his hand and put a medal around his neck.
On the subject of the real thing, Tallent - who has also become the Olympic record holder with a time of 3 hours, 36 minutes and 53 seconds - commented: “I'm ecstatic to be finally getting the medal that I deserve, the gold medal I should have received in London has been a long time coming.
"When I was a kid growing up in Ballarat, I was always inspired by the Olympic Games. To be able to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal is beyond my wildest dreams.
“And to get the gold medal here, so close, and the first one awarded in Melbourne since the 1956 Games, makes it so special. I just want to celebrate today. Let's enjoy the moment. We now move to eighth on the medal tally in London!"
The medal was presented on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by the Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates, who took the opportunity to lambast an All-Russia Athletic Federation that, later in the day, would have its ban from international competition maintained.
"Presenting an Olympic medal is always an honour,” said Coates. “But more so on this occasion to be part of rectifying, in some way, the massive injustice perpetrated on Jared by a doping cheat and aided by a Russian Anti-Doping Agency and Russian Athletics Federation that were rotten to the core."
Australia's Chef de Mission for this year's Rio Olympics, Kitty Chiller, had a presentation of her own after the ceremony, giving Tallent a custom-made team jacket for the 2016 Games, with his own name inscribed on the interior along with all of the country's other gold medal winners.
"It is just one less little thing that he doesn't have to go without," Ms Chiller said. "There are lots of things that we can't rectify, and I didn't want this to be one of them."
In terms of tone and setting, the ceremony brought to mind the one conducted for another Antipodean track and field athlete cheated out of their moment of Olympic glory in London - New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams.
Like Tallent, Adams ascended to the top podium in civic splendour after the original winner showed up a doping positive - in her case, it was Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus, who received a four-year ban.
The big difference was that Adams only had to wait 44 days to get her medal after the August 6 final - although, as she remarked, the whole experience still felt “weird”.
The medal ceremony took place on the Auckland waterfront at The Cloud venue, and was attended by 2,500 people, many dressed in black and waving flags. Also present were several of New Zealand’s other London 2012 gold medallists including single sculler Mahe Drysdale and winning pairs rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond.
Before the medal presentation Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae paid tribute to Adams' achievement in London, adding: "Tonight, Valerie Adams, we've reconvened the audience of three and a half million New Zealanders."
The Southern Cross Campus choir from Adams' former high school performed a rousing national anthem and Adams' 11-year-old niece, Sharne Pupuke-Robati presented her with flowers.
"This is more than I expected," Adams said, while struggling to hold back tears. "I do this for you and I do this for our country."
For Adams, one of the weirdest parts of an experience which is becoming increasingly common as the options for retrospective testing grow ever more diverse was actually hearing the news that gold would be hers.
She recounted how she initially believed New Zealand’s Chef de Mission Dave Currie was "telling fibs" when he broke the news to her while she was being driven in a car.
“I got a call from Dave Currie telling me I’d won,” she recalled told RadioLIVE. “Obviously I felt a little bit weird and I asked him if he was telling fibs or not, and he said, ‘No, no, you’ve won. The IOC have informed us that Ostapchuk has been done.’
“My first reaction was to burst into tears. I just asked my driver to pull over and I cried it all out. It was just an amazing feeling - quite surreal. It was a really silly thing to say and to think, but in a situation like this it’s pretty touchy. I needed to be reassured two or three times.”
On the subject of the ceremony itself, she commented: “I think it’s important for me. I really want to hear the national anthem. I want to receive my medal with the national anthem, with our flag flying high. I think that’s important because I am a very, very proud New Zealander, and that was a moment that she robbed me of.
“She got the glory of the 80,000 people in the stadium when she received the gold medal when in actual fact she shouldn’t have been the one to receive it. That’s life. She has got to live with it now.”
Adams added: “At the end of the day the very unfortunate thing about this is that the women’s shot put has been tainted. I want people out there to know you can do it clean. I have done it clean for 13 years now.”
As the ceremony for Tallent bore out, the accompanying elements of a national anthem and flag are now part of the IOC's protocol for such occasions.
The intention is to avoid some of the less than exalted circumstances in which previous cheated Olympic athletes have received their rightful medals.
Britain’s Mike McLeod finished third in the 10,000 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, behind gold medallist Alberto Cova of Italy and Finland’s Martti Vainio. Two days later Vainio was disqualified when it was revealed he had tested positive for anabolic steroids.
The man known in his heyday as the “Elswick Express” received his medal five months later, just before the start of the 1985 AAA Championships 10km road race in Battersea Park. "I drove down from Newcastle with my coach, Alan Storey, to collect it," McLeod told The Independent. "Maybe they could have waited until the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and presented it to me in the stadium there.”
Many feel McLeod deserves another ceremony to receive a gold medal given Cova’s subsequent admission that he had regularly blood-doped, even though it was not illegal at the time.
Shortly before he was recalling his experiences, another cheated Olympian, Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, had received the Beijing 2008 1500m gold that was rightly his following the belated confirmation in November 2009 that the first man over the line, Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain, had illegally blood-doped.
It took until December 8, 2011 for Kiprop to get his gold - in a function room at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi in front of a handful of invited officials and journalists. “It is not the way I wanted to be an Olympic gold medallist,” said Kiprop. “It would have meant more to win on the track in the natural way but I am happy because I have got what is mine.”
Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong had to wait six years before receiving the bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which he missed by a centimetre, as a result of a lifetime doping ban handed to Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus.
"Missing the medal in 2008 by a single centimetre was tough,” Armstrong said. “On a positive note I will say it definitely provided me with more determination and drive, helping me achieve more medals at major championships."
Following the introduction of anti-doping regulations by the IOC in 1967, the first athlete to lose an Olympic medal for a doping infraction was Swedish modern pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall at the 1968 Mexico Games. He reportedly had “two beers” to calm his nerves before the pistol shooting event. The Swedish team – which included individual 1968 Olympic champion Bjorn Ferm - had subsequently to give up their bronze medals, which went to France.
The following Games in Munich saw four medals stripped - two in cycling, where Spain’s bronze medallist in the individual road race, Jaime Huelamo, and the Dutch team time trial bronze medallists were sanctioned, one in judo - Mongolia’s lightweight Bakhaavaa Buidaa – and, most controversially, one in swimming, where US 400m freestyler Rick DeMont lost his gold for a prohibited substance in his prescription asthma medication.
Before the Olympics, DeMont had properly declared his asthma medications on his medical disclosure forms, but the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) had not cleared them with the IOC's Medical committee. In 2001, USOC recognised his gold performance, but he has still not been granted his medal by the IOC.
At the Salt Lake City Winter Games of 2002, Britain’s Alpine skier Alain Baxter lost his bronze in the men’s slalom when his sample showed up a banned stimulant. The International Ski Federation subsequently accepted Baxter’s explanation that the substance was present in the US version of a Vick’s inhaler of the kind he regularly used without risk in the UK.
He received the minimum three-month ban, and the British Olympic Association assisted in an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport which proved ultimately unsuccessful due to the strict liability doctrine whereby an athlete has to take responsibility for substances contained in their sample no matter what the circumstances.
Since 1972, in both the summer and winter Games, doping infractions have caused the re-allocation in medals across a wide range of events, including athletics, weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, show jumping, rowing, biathlon, alpine and cross-country skiing.
Over the years there has been a move towards some standardisation of the process by which Olympic medals are re-assigned, although this is still flexible.
The official take from the IOC on the subject of re-awarding ceremonies is this: “Decisions on protocol and ceremonies on the reallocation of medals are always made on a case by case basis. This being said Olympic Agenda 2020 - the IOC strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement – calls for formal ceremonies to be organized to honour clean athletes who are awarded an Olympic medal following a doping case (Recommendation 17).”
Also part of the IOC protocol is a strong desire to ensure that the original medals are used in any re-allocations wherever possible.
“It’s the same medal,” an IOC spokesperson told insidethegames. “We work very hard to make sure it’s the same. We always manage it – we work very closely with the National Olympic Committees.
“We instruct the NOC, and then they get in touch with their athlete or their athlete’s coach. Sometimes they do have to wait, as it can take a long time.
“The medal is then returned by the NOC to the IOC, and the IOC passes it on to the NOC whose athlete is due to receive it.”
Has anyone, one wonders, ever failed to give up a medal? Or unfortunately “forgotten” where they put it?
“No,” said the spokesperson. “I don’t recall that there has ever been any big issue with that. It can be a complex issue where more than one medal is involved, but we work very closely and successfully with the NOCs. We have had a process in place for a number of years and it works very well.
“The only difficulty we have in these cases is time. Sometimes NOCs can struggle to get in touch with athletes and it can take six to eight months to resolve.
“And no, we don’t use the postal service! The medals are usually carried by officials travelling to international meetings or conferences where they can be passed on to other NOCs. If there is transport involved for the medal it is always done in a secure way.
“We do have a small number of spare medals from different Olympics which are kept in a vault in the Olympic Museum. But they are not kept for cases where medals are re-allocated following doping positives. There are only very few of them. When it comes to the awarding, the IOC wants to see that the athletes receive their medals in a respectful way and in an appropriate setting.
“This is their moment, and we want it to be as memorable as possible. We want it to be a ceremony that puts the athlete in a bright light.”
In the meantime European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen has announced a new protocol for track and field athletes within that continent, proposing that any European athletes cheated out of world titles will be retrospectively presented their medals at an official ceremony at next month’s European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, from July 6 to 10.
Hansen confirmed that only gold medallists will be publicly awarded their titles and that so far two athletes from the 2009 International Association of Athletics Federations’ World Championships in Berlin would be presented with gold medals on July 6, the opening day of the Championships.
The first is another legacy of Kirdyapkin’s demise - with Norway’s Trond Nymark being promoted to gold in the 50km men’s walk. Another Russian walker, Olga Kaniskina, has forfeited her 20km title from Berlin, which now goes to Ireland’s Olive Loughnane.
Both will be presented with new medals at a medal ceremony wearing full national colours and with their respective national anthems played.
“It’s a very important signal,” Hansen told Athletics Weekly. “On the first day, on July 6 we are going to reallocate and present the gold medals. It’s too much to go down to all the medal winners because that would mean a lot of changes for us. But on the first night we will give all the gold medals from Berlin 2009.”
Given the recent re-test of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics by the IOC, the trend for re-allocated medals appears to be heading steeply upwards.
But this did not give the IOC spokesperson any cause for misgiving.
“What we have seen so far is that the process is going in the right direction,” they responded. "The NOCs have been working really well in redirecting the medals.”
There are those who feel this process of re-awarding medals - not just Olympic medals, but across the board of sports - is threatening to get out of control. But once international anti-doping authorities have established the science to verify past injustice, there is no turning back. The system is going to have to cope with a flood of belated justice…