Ostapchuk's cheating clear for all to see

Last updated 10:10 14/08/2012
Nadzeya Ostapchuk
DRUG ASSISTED AGGRESSION: Nadzeya Ostapchuk wins the gold that she would later be stripped of.

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It was obvious to anyone with eyes to see, and a mind to analyse, that Nadzeya Ostapchuk was a drug cheat.

OPINION: The nerve wracking issue was whether she'd been taking drugs too sophisticated to be detected in London.

In her outraged denial of any wrong doing it's telling that she rages nobody who was doping would use "such an out-dated drug as a steroid".

Here are the reasons the four positive urine tests in London for metenolone, an anabolic steroid that, among other things, produces manly characteristics in women, should have come as no surprise.

Ostapchuk is 31. At that age improvements as a shot putter come in tiny increments.

Valerie Adams, at 27, for example, says she knows the huge strides she made as a teenager and in her early 20s are gone.

"This is the hard part of my career," she told me in Switzerland in June.

"You're only going to tweak up little bits at a time."

Ostapchuk and Adams faced each other in Rome nine weeks before London. Adams threw 21.03m, Ostapchuk threw 19.58m.

Ostapchuk returned to Belarus. Random drug testing for athletes is conducted by medical teams from the country they live in.

In Minsk in Belarus on July 18, she threw 21.58m, a two-metre improvement in six weeks since she threw in Rome.

The first and only meeting with independent drug testing she's thrown over 21 metres at in 2012 was the Olympics. You join the dots.

Ostapchuk is complaining that she passed 16 drug tests since April.

She's especially aggrieved that her last three tests, on July 25 and 26, and August 1, all came up clean. They were all done in Belarus.

Experts in the field of drug use by athletes often mention a rough, but often accurate, rule of thumb for female steroid users.

The drugs wreak havoc with their complexion. Good skin, clean athlete. Bad skin, maybe not. Think back to the awards ceremony for the women's shot in London. Adams and the bronze medal winner, Evgeniia Kolodko, had blemish free faces that glowed the way you'd expect from young, super fit athletes. Ostapchuk had the skin tone of a 40-year-old smoker.

One last thing. You may wonder why an athlete would be stupid enough to keep using steroids so close to an Olympics, when the drugs get out of the system in weeks, but keep providing performance benefits for months.

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The sad fact is steroids do improve strength, explosiveness and aggression. Athletes who competitively are fragile become mentally strong.

Many fear, against all logic, that stopping use too soon will rob them of the gains the steroids have brought.  Ben Johnson was being injected the day before he ran his infamous 100 metres in Seoul.

Johnson was a sad, fragile person. Expect Ostapchuk and her team to hang tough and shameless a lot longer than he did.


* Phil Gifford is the author of a soon-to-be-released book on Adams.

- Fairfax Media

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