Belarus athletes urged to 'admit mistakes'

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 12:59 25/08/2012
Nadzeya Ostapchuk
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
CAUGHT OUT: Disgraced Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk.

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The president of Belarus is calling for his own debriefing into the country's abysmal display at the London Olympics, with disgraced shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk not the only team member to be fighting doping accusations.

Ostapchuk was unceremoniously stripped of her gold medal after returning two positive drugs tests for anabolic steroids at the games. New Zealand's Valerie Adams was named the rightful gold medallist.

While she is said to be handing back her silver medal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today, Adams is still awaiting the return of the gold medal from Ostapchuk.

Belarusian Hammer thrower Ivan Tsikhan was also pulled out of his event at the 11th hour after retrospectively-tested samples he gave in 2004 returned positive results earlier this year.

Belarus agency Interfax said the country's dictator Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting with the athletes and coaches of the Olympic team in Minsk earlier this week.

There, he told the Olympic team they needed to recognise their mistakes, in order to perform at Rio de Janeiro.

"One need[s] to find courage to admit mistakes, to take into account gained experience, and with perseverance, dedication work for the result," Lukashenko said.

"Some of the tasks assigned to our team, were not fulfilled. Unfortunately, not all were able to cope with stress - determined to win in a hard struggle with rivals. Quite frank[ly], some were not prepared to perform at the Olympic Games at all."

Before the games, Lukashenko reportedly told Belarusian media they were expecting 25 medals of the 2012 Olympics. They came away with 12, not counting Ostapchuk's.

Belarusian newswire Charter 97 wrote Lukashenko had called the results "depressing."

"Compared to the previous Olympics, we rolled down in the medal standings. In particular sports results are just depressing.

"All this will be a subject to a separate serious conversation after a detailed analysis of the performance of our Olympians," he said.

Belarusian officials were standing behind Ostapchuk, who was awarded the country's Order of the Fatherland third class after her initial shot put win.

Investigations had been launched there to investigate how the drug metenalone got into her system.

Ostapchuk has become a household name in New Zealand after her doping cost Adam's the chance to stand at the top of the podium and collect her second shot put Olympic gold medal.

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In a desperate bid to save her tattered reputation, Ostapchuk has tried to level her own doping allegations at Adams, which have been labelled as "raving mad" by athletics officials throughout the world. She has vowed she would be appealing the IOC's decision.

An appeal had not yet been filed however, which meant Adams would have to wait until the official process was over before she could collect her gold.

At Diamond League event in Lausanne, Adams said yesterday she didn't care what Ostapchuk did.

"I don't care what she does. I'm giving back my silver medal to get the gold.

"I'm here, I'm the Olympic champion whether she likes it or not and that's the truth. That's just it."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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