New Zealand's triumphant Olympic rowers expressed scorn and heartfelt compassion for Valerie Adams' prolonged plight today.
It is the touching, little things Adams was robbed of by her disgraced Belarusian shot put rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who is claiming sabotage in a last-ditch attempt to retain her cheapened gold medal after two failed drugs tests tarnished her reputation.
Adams rightful place on top of the podium; the sound of the national anthem bellowing out throughout the Olympic Stadium as over 80,000 people watched on, sharing what should have been a joyful moment with family, and her place in the New Zealand team gold medal photo, are memories that cannot be replicated, no matter what ceremony is arranged in the months ahead.
Those are the harsh realties that Ostapchuk's cheating implications have caused Adams.
Men's rowing pair gold medallist, Hamish Bond, didn't buy Ostapchuk's excuses and believed the gold medal should be returned, immediately.
"Every drug cheat says that [they were framed]," Bond said after being welcomed home at Auckland Airport today. "There's probably some investigation to go on, but at this stage it's not looking good for her."
Bond got to enjoy ultimate Olympic success with team-mate Eric Murray and knows exactly what Adams missed out on.
"We are very pleased she got her just reward, but it's a terrible way to win," Bond said. "She'll be very happy, but she got robbed of her moment. That's a terrible thing to go through.
"She'll be satisfied that she is the No. 1 shot-putter in the world. We all felt that was the case. She's a great competitor, a great champion.
"It shows you can't cheat in world sport - and if you do cheat you will be found out."
Nathan Cohen, men's double sculls champion, discussed the Adams saga on the flight home from London and, on reflection, felt she would regret not being able to take her place in the team gold photo.
"As an athlete that's one of the worst things that could happen," Cohen said. "It's so pleasing that she got that gold medal in the end, but the way it happened, that's never nice.
"It was only two days ago we had team photos. She couldn't be apart of the gold medal photo when she deserved to be. That's something you can never replicate. It's a shame the way it happened."
Ostapchuk's use of an illicit substance was the latest event to mar Adams' campaign. She also had to endure the self-discovery of being controversially left off the start list by New Zealand Olympic officials.
"She had the hiccup with the entry. It's been a real rollercoaster of emotions for her over the last week," Bond said.
"She's quite inspirational for us. We went out and watched her in Switzerland. She was training near us while we were competing over there. She's very down to earth. She came up and gave us all a hug before she started throwing, it was good motivation."
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