The All Blacks have thrown their support behind a home-grown ceremony for newly-crowned double Olympic shotput champion Valerie Adams.
All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu believes Adams deserves a grand-scale presentation to celebrate her gold medal defence.
That would allow Adams’ large New Zealand fan-base the chance to show their immense support, respect and sympathy after she was robbed of her rightful place atop the podium in London by Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who failed two drugs tests.
"It would be special if we could get in behind her and present an official gold medal," Weepu said today.
"She's worked pretty hard and has been outstanding since the last Olympics. It would only be fair for the country to give her the honour that she deserved."
News that Ostapchuk tested positive for banned anabolic agent metenolone before and after competing filtered through the All Blacks’ camp this morning.
"Everyone was excited that she finally got the gold," Weepu said.
There have been suggestions Adams should be presented with her medal in-front of close to 50,000 people in next week’s Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park, though she is likely to suffer a long wait, similar to that endured by Nick Willis, as Ostapchuk tries to fight her tarnished reputation.
"If the opportunity does arise it would be pretty touching for her," Weepu said of the touted Auckland presentation.
WEEKS WAIT FOR GOLD
It was likely to be several weeks before Adams got her gold medal, Sports Minister Murray McCully said.
"I understand that the International Olympic Committee doesn't keep a cupboard of medals to hand out on these occasions and that there is likely to be some delay," McCully said.
He did not know "definitively" if Adams would get a brand new medal or have Ostapchuk's passed to her.
"But I understand in any case it won't be quick," he said.
Adams had seven further competitions to compete in before coming back to New Zealand.
"She's not back here, currently, until October. I'm talking to her management and we'll work out something that's going to be suitable in the circumstances. I think a lot of New Zealanders would want to see her given due ceremony."
McCully said he was he was delighted for Adams.
"As someone who has taken a close interest in the work of the World Anti-Doping Agency, I think it's great to see the system work."
He had been in touch with her via text message last night and spoken with her manager Nick Cowan.
It was "of course" disappointing that Adams had not been presented with her gold at the Olympics, he said.
"I would have loved to have seen her standing on the podium and heard the New Zealand national anthem but it didn't work out that way so it's been a real roller-coaster ride for her but she's a great New Zealander and a great athlete and so I'm tremendously pleased to see the outcome."
Nothing had changed about the need to investigate the administrative error that led to Adams being initially left off the competition list.
"Some things occurred that should never have happened," McCully said.
"Valerie Adams is 27 years of age, she's capable of being a gold medallist at at least a couple more Olympics for New Zealand. I want to encourage her to do that. The best way we can achieve that is to ensure that all of the support systems are there and working the way they should on the day."
"We'll go through a proper process to make sure that happens. It's the business of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, but they're going to work with us because we're a significant stake-holder.
"We, on behalf of taxpayers, fund a lot of high performance sport. I think New Zealanders would want to see us eliminate mistakes at that high end of sport and so we'll work to achieve that."
VAL AS HOMECOMING QUEEN 'UNLIKELY'
New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie admits it is "extraordinarily unlikely" that Val Adams will be presented with her shot put gold medal at the Olympic team's homecoming celebration in Christchurch on August 24.
The homecoming party in Christchurch next Friday is the prime opportunity, but Currie said it could well take months for the gold medal to be returned from wherever it lies in Belarus.
"It's extraordinarily unlikely that it will happen," he said of a medal presentation in Christchurch.
"The Belarusian has gone back to the wilds of Belarus so it could take some time to get it back. Until that gold medal is retrieved, we can't plan on anything.
"We've got no idea where that will be. Clearly we want to make it significant, it is a wonderful moment. I'm sure the NZOC will work in an appropriate time to do that and make it special for Val."
The International Olympic Committee must retrieve all three medals from the athletes who were awarded them last week, and will then re-allocate them to the respective national olympic committees to award to the rightful medallists.
The silver medal Adams was awarded is with her in Switzerland, while it is unknown where Russian Evgeniia Kolodko is with the bronze medal.
She will be promoted to the silver medal position, with China's Lijiao Gong promoted from fourth to third.
A similar situation occurred when Kiwi 1500m runner Nick Willis was promoted from bronze to silver after the Beijing Olympics, when gold medal winner Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain was done for drugs. Ramzi was busted in late 2009 but Willis was not presented with his medal till early 2011, in a ceremony at Newtown Park in Wellington.
"We wouldn't expect this will be any different," Currie said.
"She (Ostapchuk) has gone back to Belarus and now they've got to get it back. I wouldn't plan on anything anytime soon.
"It could be months. You just don't know. We know from the Nick Willis experience it could take months.
"It will be wonderful when it happens but I'm sure we can do something even without the medal to celebrate and acknowledge that."
"We need to see what we can do, where there is time to do something, whether we know enough to do something on the 24th. That will happen in the fullness of time. Right now, let Val bask in the glory of a wonderful gold medal."
Currie applauded the IOC and anti-doping agency WADA for exposing the cheating Belarusian and said Adams was "excited and tearful" when he broke the news to her today.
"It's disappointing that Val didn't have a chance to stand on the podium at the time but it's just fantastic news.
He said the New Zealand team's reaction when he informed them at the athlete's village was "overwhelming".
- © Fairfax NZ News
Where should Val Adams be presented her gold medal?Related story: (See story)