Adams slams cheat, wants medal pronto

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 13:47 15/08/2012
MIKE SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

Champion New Zealand shot putter Val Adams and her coach Jean-Pierre Egger talk about how drug cheat Nadzeya Ostapchuk stole her Olympic moment.

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ALL BLACK GOLD: Thousands of Kiwis are supporting the idea of Adams receiving her gold medal at the All Blacks game at Twickenham in December.

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Kiwi star Valerie Adams wants to be presented with her Olympic gold medal in Europe at a major international athletics meet - "sooner rather than later" - even if that means the ceremony happening in Switzerland before she returns to New Zealand late next month.

Speaking at her Swiss training base, Adams said that if he the medal can be retrieved quickly, it was her preference for the belated medal ceremony was for it to be held at a major international athletics meeting, ideally in Lausanne where the International Olympic Committee [IOC] is based, and before she returns to New Zealand late next month.

Kiwi fans delighted by the IOC decision to strip Ostapchuk of the gold medal after she returned positive drug tests for a banned steroid, have been eagerly debating where and when Adams should be honoured. 

Most wanted it to be in New Zealand, or at the All Blacks-England test in Twickenham in London in early December.

But Adams said Switzerland was her preference, only because it would happen quickly.

"I would like it sooner rather than later - and if I can get it before I go back home. I'd love to do it in Lausanne where the IOC is based, and have it in a stadium at an athletics meet just full of people. And also Switzerland is sort of my second home and they've embraced this just as much as New Zealand has.

"But yes, sooner rather than later, man ... it's really hard to start believing [I' ve won], but I think I'd believe it more if it all happened."

Adams acknowledged that it could take months for the medal to be retrieved from Ostapchuk, who has returned to Belarus. 

Given the circumstances, Adams was uncertain if she wanted the actual medal given to Ostapchuk.

"I'm not sure [if it's that one], I hope not," she said.  "But whatever medal is given to me, all I want is a gold one because I believe that I've earned it fair and square, and clean."

Adams strongly criticised Ostapchuk for her deception and the way she had tainted track-and-field competition.

"She robbed me of the moment, that's what she did," Adams said.

"As we stood on the podium, she cried tears - but she stole the moment.

"Just the heartache and everything, the disappointment I went through - it was tough."

Asked if she could forgive Ostapchuk, she did not hesitate.

"No. I don't think anybody in New Zealand would to be fair.

"What I've lived [through] in the last seven days, I've cried so much. I think it was the worst lead-up to any major competition in my life."

Adams' coach, Jean-Pierre Eggers, was even more vehement in his criticism of the Belarusian, describing her losing the chance to be presented the gold medal on the podium as a "catastrophe".

Adams confirmed she had heard previous rumours about Ostapchuk.

"I think a lot of comments from a lot of people is that they weren't surprised by the result," Adams said.  "So many people were saying they knew it was going to happen, that it was just a matter of time.

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"I'm just glad that the programmes that are put in place to make sure our sport is clean are working, and they eventually got her."

The shot put champion was sitting in her car in Switzerland when she received a surprise phone call earlier this week, telling her that the gold medal had been stripped from Ostapchuk.

TWICKENHAM SUPPORTERS

One idea, from Hamilton man James Robinson, has received enormous support on Facebook.

The father of three posted a message on the All Blacks Facebook page yesterday, calling for the medal to be awarded to Adams before their next game at Twickenham in London.

The post received more than 36,000 'likes' and 1200 comments within 24 hours.

But Adams will be back in New Zealand when the All Blacks are scheduled to play England at Twickenham on December 2.

Lausanne is hosting a major athletics meeting on August 23 and that is the likely date for the ceremony, provided the medal is returned from Belarus by then.

Olympic chef de mission Dave Currie, when he arrived at Auckland airport today, said that getting Adams' medal would take some time.

He said a special ceremony would be held: "I'm thinking about phoning the prime minister up and getting the SAS to go get it".

All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu has also said that Adams deserved a grand-scale presentation.

"It would be special if we could get in behind her and present an official gold medal," he said.

"She's worked pretty hard and has been outstanding since the last Olympics. It would only be fair for the country to give her the honour that she deserved."

There were suggestions that Adams should be presented with her medal in front of close to 50,000 people at next week's Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park or at the Olympic team's homecoming celebration in Christchurch on August 24.

But with Ostapchuk strongly denying the doping allegation, and with a lengthy process to follow anyway, it was unlikely Adams would receive her medal in time for either event.

It could take weeks or months before the medal is safe around her neck, Sports Minister Murray McCully said yesterday.

- Additional reporting by Michelle Cooke

- Stuff

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