Punish the drug cheats - NZ flagbearer Willis

NICK WILLIS: The Beijing Olympic silver medallist will be seeking a sub-four-minute mile on the grass at the international meeting at Christ's College on Saturday.
NICK WILLIS: The Beijing Olympic silver medallist will be seeking a sub-four-minute mile on the grass at the international meeting at Christ's College on Saturday.

Nick Willis knows all about how long it takes to get an Olympic medal back from a drug cheat, and he says sporting authorities are not doing enough to help victims like Valerie Adams.

Cheats such as Adams' shot-put rival Nadyeza Ostapchuk should be banned for four years and, even when reinstated, be ineligible for prizemoney and banned from displaying sponsors' logos, he said yesterday after learning that Ostapchuk had been disqualified from the Olympics and that her gold medal would go to Adams.

"Much more strict punishments need to be put in place," Willis said. "By removing earning potential, you remove a huge amount of the motive."

Adams had been "robbed of all the joys that an Olympic champion gets to experience in those hours and days immediately after victory", he said. "Instead, she had to deal with frustration, disappointment and stress. That can never be given back."

On Twitter yesterday, he joined growing calls for her to be awarded her gold medal at a public ceremony at Eden Park. All Black Piri Weepu also backed the idea.

However, such a ceremony could still be months away.

After Beijing Olympics 1500m winner Rashid Ramzi was disqualified in 2009 and Willis was upgraded to silver, he waited about 18 months before receiving his medal.

Ostapchuk has denied drugs use and claimed Olympic officials are biased against athletes from Belarus, suggesting she is digging in for a long fight. She has also been backed by Belarus government officials.

The Dominion Post