Adams to get gold, Ostapchuk fails test

MARK GEENTY IN LONDON
Last updated 08:11 14/08/2012
Fairfax NZ

New Zealanders react to Valerie Adams being promoted to the gold medal spot.

London 2012: Adams gets the gold

Valerie Adams
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ON THE DAIS: Valerie Adams and Nadzeya Ostapchuk.
Valerie Adams
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TOP RECOGNITION: Valerie Adams has been shortlisted for the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award.
Nadzeya Ostapchuk
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FAILED TEST: Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk celebrates after her throw of 21.36m won her the shot put competition at the London Olympics, before a failed drug test saw her stripped of the title and gold medal.

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Track & Field

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Valerie Adams has her gold medal but her Belarusian rival stripped of the Olympic title for using a banned steroid is vowing to fight the decision, saying she has done nothing wrong.

Adams was alone in her car in Switzerland, when told she was now a double Olympic shot put champion.

Instead of climbing the podium before a packed house of 80,000 and her family at the Olympic Stadium, gold medal around her neck and national anthem playing, a telephone call from New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie yesterday informed Adams that Nadzeya Ostapchuk had tested positive to a banned steroid. Silver had turned into gold.

Cue all manner of emotions; shock, joy, disbelief, anger, and no-one to share the moment with. As she arrived at the home of her coach Jean-Pierre Egger, it all spilled out.

''When I got here [to Egger's house] I burst into tears as his wife opened the door. She looked worried and asked why I was crying so much. I belted out 'we won, we won the gold medal' and I just fell into JP's arms and just shared a moment. We shared a moment of distress and disappointment on the sixth of August but today we shared a moment of happiness. It's overwhelming,'' Adams said.

Egger told TV3's Firstline this morning that it was a great day for Adams.

"It's a big moment for us, for Val, for me but it's a bad day for track and field, for sport, our discipline, because doping is never good propaganda for sport.

"Two hours before a friend of mine phoned me from the Swiss track and field federation and said to me you will perhaps have a surprise in a few minutes or hours. Ostapchuk has been positive but he was not sure. I wait and wait and suddenly at 12 o'clock Valerie came and cried and she took me in her big arms and we were both crying. She said to me 'we won, we won, we won'. It was unbelievable.

"I knew exactly that it was not possible what she did and you know certainly over the press when people asked me in the mixed zone what I thought about this performance I said I had a long silence and this silence tells you what I think about the situation.

"I could not answer because I exactly know what was behind this performance. it was hard for us because we work cleanly."

OSTAPCHUK: I'D BE A COMPLETE IDIOT

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However, Ostapchuk has told Belarus media she will fight to clear her name.

"It's a complete shock to me because I was tested on July 30 [before going to London]. It showed I was clean.

"In total, I've been tested 16 times since April. You must be a complete idiot to take doping just before the competition especially such an outdated drug as a steroid, knowing you're going to be tested not once but probably several times."

Ostapchuk also accused Olympic organisers of prejudice against the Belarusian athletes.

"You all know how we had been treated there, just ask Ivan Tsikhan," she said, referring to the Belarusian hammer thrower, who was prevented from competing in London following a request from the sport's world governing body (IAAF).

"We must fight for our rights. If we remain silent and accept the punishment, then they will continue to humiliate us.

"I was closely watched by Olympic drug testers, especially after what had happened to Tsikan. I was tested twice more in London but I don't have any idea how this thing ended up in my body. I'm going to fight this allegation because it can't be possible," she added.

CHALLENGE UNLIKELY TO SUCCEED

Even if Ostapchuk could prove that the steroid ended up in her system after her food or drink was spiked, she still had a technical advantage over her opponents, Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel said.

The only way her name could be cleared would be for further tests to prove that the original results were wrong, Steel said.

''She would have to show it was by no fault on her part. Even if she does that... the rule says she still had a technical advantage.

''So unless the test was shown to be wrong, she would always lose the medal."

Metenolone was an anabolic-androgen steroid which produced male-like characteristics, Steel said. While it increased strength it also led to a deeper voice and more hair.

''If you take an anabolic steroid you can't have part of the package and not the other."

The committee's decision was swift, and the whole disciplinary process was completed within 24 hours.

Ostapchuk could attend a hearing, provide a written defence or request the test results within that time, according to the International Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Rules for the London Games.

She could then take the case to the International Association of Athletics Federations which could conduct a more in-depth hearing which could look at the evidence supporting her argument, Steel said.

She would also then have the opportunity to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, he said.

ADAMS BITES HER LIP

If Adams felt anger towards Ostapchuk for robbing her of glory atop the podium, she bit her lip.

''It's a pity it came out a week later but she's caught now. It was her moment but that's the only moment she'll be able to live now because it's all taken away from her. I don't want to waste any energy thinking about how I feel about her.

''I'm overwhelmed that I've won the gold medal and very humbled by all the people who have stood by me. The support of the public has been absolutely fantastic.''

Adams told TV3's Firstline that she couldn't understand an athlete's drive to cheat to win - of being that desperate in a game of catchup against a rival.

"Not at all. I've been a chaser as well, and I've chased her for a couple of years when she was always beating me. But it never crossed my mind and I could never understand why people would go to that extent," Adams said.

"For a while she had the potential to throw naturally ... but obviously not."

It boosted New Zealand's gold medal tally to six, amid a total of 13 medals which equalled their best haul from Seoul in 1988.

Ostapchuk was the 12th competitor to test positive for a banned substance at these Games but the first to be stripped of a medal. Samples provided the day before the shot put competition, and immediately after her winning performance, both tested positive.

In what was considered a two-horse race last Monday, Ostapchuk threw 21.36m to Adams' 20.70m.

There were suspicions around Ostapchuk whose distances increased markedly in the lead-up to London. But Adams had tried to believe the suspicions weren't true.

''Two months before the Olympics she was throwing massive throws in Belarus. But I never wanted to assume and I never have. Other people have, and commented about her looks and how she threw. At the end of the day it happened and I'm just grateful that the system put in place to make the sport clean is working.

''I just wish that my family that were here in London were able to see me and my medal on top of the podium and hear the national anthem and enjoy the moment.''

With Ostapchuk's disqualification, Russia's Evgeniia Kolodko was upgraded to silver and China's Lijiao Gong to the bronze.

ADAMS LOOKS TO FUTURE

Adams hoped she could receive her gold medal in some kind of public ceremony and hear the anthem played in New Zealand, but that was for the NZOC and her manager, Nick Cowan, to arrange.

She didn't have long to celebrate as she was scheduled to train 30 minutes after speaking to the media, in preparation for another competition in Stockholm on Thursday.

Adams contacted her family immediately to share the news and planned to catch up with some of them for a celebratory dinner.

''I'm letting this all sink in because it's so surreal. Already I've got 50 text messages from people congratulating me and are so happy with the result.

''Right now it's a lot for me to take in. I missed the moment in the stadium to have my medal presented to me. But the facts have come out and I'm an Olympic champion back to back. I'm very grateful that I achieved my goal even though it's come a week later, it's better than never coming. I'm very delighted and overwhelmed.''

Adams told Firstline that in the immediate disappointment of not defending her Olympic title, she never thought about quitting. Her drive was about proving herself better at the next games in Brazil in 2016.

"Never, never, never, never," she said of contemplating giving it away. "After the competition I was more motivated. I said, Rio, Rio, I'm going to be at Rio.

"It's kind of disheartening when I read some things from Australia saying 'it's the end of an era' whereas in actual fact it's not the end of an era. I hope people will change their opinions on what they think I should be doing."

'HELL OF A WEEK'

Adams' manager Nick Cowan said it had been a "hell of a week".

Talking this morning to Radio Live, Cowan said it was a "wonderful, wonderful result for her [Adams]".

"It's thoroughly deserved. She's worked so hard and the emotional phone call that we received from her last night was really just quite amazing.''

Cowan told Radio Live that they did have their suspicions over the Belarusian, but chose to stay focused on Adams' performance.

"All of these big throws [by Ostapchuk] started coming out, and you know, you do tend to jump to conclusions.

"What will be will be was the attitude that we took and so I guess from our perspective, the best way I can comment on that is we're just so pleased that the system is working and Valerie is just so pleased that the system that she adheres to and others adhere to is working.''

He said he had to calm Adams down when she called him with the news.

"I received a very emotional phone call from Valerie last night about 10 minutes after the news broke. And I had to ask her if she was driving. I had to ask her to pull over and take a few deep breaths."

Cowan said criticism of Adams after she won silver was not necessarily unwarranted, but Adams was her own worst critic.

"That's an interesting question because she threw 20.70 and it was a very creditable performance but Valerie would admit that she wasn't on-song that day and she could potentially have thrown better.

Cowan said he hoped Ostapchuk would not be allowed to compete in Rio de Janeiro.

THE STATS

- additional reporting from Stacey Kirk, Nicola Abercrombie, Duncan Johnstone and Reuters

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