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, and he reckons it could even take months.
In the wake of Adams' sensational promotion to the gold medal position, following the positive drug test of Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk for use of anabolic steroid metenolone, attention is quickly turning to how, when and where New Zealand's sixth gold of the London Games will be presented and celebrated.
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".
- additional reporting from Stacey Kirk, Nicola Abercrombie, Duncan Johnstone and Reuters
- Fairfax Media