Nadzeya Ostapchuk - a woman of mystery

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 11:09 16/08/2012

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Nadzeya Ostapchuk
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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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She is possibly one of the most reviled people in New Zealand right now.

Until a week ago Nadzeya Ostapchuk was known only to some as "that Belarusian shot putter" who was to be Valerie Adams only serious competition at the London Olympic Games.

Now she is the disgraced drug-cheat who stole "our Val's" moment, and the whole country is talking about her.

But who is she, and how much do we really know about her? It was not so long ago that Ostapchuk was still considered a great athlete.

Since she tested positive at the Olympic Games for anabolic steroid metenolone it has emerged that there were already rumours in athletic circles about whether she was doping.

Born in Stolin, in the south of Belarus, not much is documented about the 31-year-old's personal life. As a teen Ostapchuk was reportedly first interested in basketball, but tried her hand at throwing events due to a lack of teams in her home town.

Ostapchuk won her first international shot put title aged 17 - the 1998 World Junior Championship crown. She also won the European Athletics Junior Championships the following year and then the 2001 European Under 23 Championships.

She finished fourth at her first Olympics in Athens with a throw of 19.01 metres, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The following year Ostapchuk won both the European Athletics Indoor Champs and also the 2005 World Champs for shot put.

Adams began to overshadow Ostapchuk when she took her world title in 2007.

Ostapchuk continued to be a force in world shot putting  - winning consistent silver and bronze medals until she improved again in 2010. Her personal best, 21.70m, was thrown that year at the Belarusian Championships.

Her best international competition throw that year, 20.85m, was at the World Indoor Championships.

But then out of nowhere Ostapchuk added close to another metre consistently to her throws just months out from the London games.

According to the IAAF, she won this year's European Winter Cup Throwing, but then only came third at a meet in May.

Two weeks later she threw 21.13m in Belarus - consistently building on that throughout the middle of the year until she threw 21.58m just two weeks ago in London.

We all know what happened then, and have been following her story ever since.

Now, desperately trying to cling on to any scrap of credibility she has in all likelihood already lost, Ostapchuk has blamed her two positive drug tests on a crooked former coach and tried to bring Adams down with her by levelling her own doping accusations.

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Both theories have been rubbished but Belarus is standing behind her as they investigate how the drugs could have gotten into her system.

The day after her now disqualified throw of 21.36m Ostapchuk was awarded the Order of Fatherland Third Class, by Belarus.

With her career now in tatters, it might be the last award she is able to keep.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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