Appeal to Adams' gold unlikely to succeed

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 11:01 14/08/2012
Fairfax NZ

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

Nadzeya Ostapchuk
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
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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Disgraced shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk can challenge the drug test results as much as she likes, but unless they're proven wrong, Valerie Adam's new gold medal is safe, New Zealand's anti-doping authority says.

Two urine samples taken from Ostapchuk - one the day before the August 6 final and one that night - have been found positive for the steroid metenolone.

The International Olympic Committee has stripped the Belarusian of her gold medal, with it now going to New Zealand's Adams. An elated Adams was told last night.

But Ostapchuk, 31, vehemently denies taking the steroid and seems to be hell-bent on clearing 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," she said, adding that she would wait for the Belarusian delegation to return from London before deciding what to do next.

"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 You must be a complete idiot to take doping just before the competition especially such an outdated drug as a steroid, knowing you're going to be tested not once but probably several times."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 Belarussian athletes.

"You all know how we had been treated there, just ask Ivan Tsikhan," she said, referring to the Belarussian 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."

Even if she 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 is an anabolic-androgen steroid which produces male-like characteristics, Steel said. While it increases strength it also leads 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.

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

New Zealand athletes were tested all-year-round and especially leading up to big events such as the Olympics.

Some athletes in endurance sports were tested more than others, such as those as in the equestrian and shooting, Steel said.

All medallists were tested by the International Olympic Committee.

Eleven athletes at the 2012 Olympics were excluded from the games after testing positive for banned substances.

THE STATS

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

Fairfax NZ and Reuters

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