Valerie Adams fumes over Ostapchuk ban

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 14/09/2012
Fairfax Australia

The coach of Belarus shot-putter, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was stripped of her Gold medal after testing positive for doping, has admitted he sprinkled steroids into her meals without her knowledge.

Val Adams
Getty Images
VALERIE ADAMS: "I find the latest excuse that it was all the coach's fault and nothing to do with her very strange."

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Valerie Adams isn't convinced steroid-shamed shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk didn't know what her coach was up to.

Adams told Fairfax Media that so widely suspected was the Belarusian of drug-use that two throwers told Adams they would quit the sport in protest, if Ostapchuk "was allowed to win" at the Olympic Games.

Both athletes, whose identities Adams wishes to protect, are back competing on the world athletics circuit after Ostapchuk was stripped of her Olympic gold after twice testing positive for an anabolic steroid at London 2012.

"Straight after London, two athletes told me they were prepared to retire if she [Ostapchuk] was allowed to get away with it," Adams said from Switzerland.

"That's the extent of her image behind the scenes, among her own peers."

Adams doesn't accept the latest explanation that Ostapchuk's coach claimed he secretly spiked Ostapchuk's food and drink - and that Ostapchuk had no knowledge. The Belarus Athletics Federation is proposing to ban Ostapchuk for one year.

Consequently, Adams, who hasn't been beaten in more than two years and this year has been called for as many as four doping tests in one 10-day period, is interested in the response of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to the Belarusian findings.

The IAAF is 48 hours into a 21-day window where it can appeal the sanctions handed to Ostapchuk by the Belarusian federation.

A secondary 21-day window then opens for Wada, whose director-general David Howman told Fairfax Media yesterday "if we [Wada] felt that the international federation [IAAF] hadn't stepped in appropriately, we'd do something".

Adams said she had "faith in the IAAF and Wada that they will do the right thing".

"It's vitally important to make sure the sport of women's shot put is never tainted like this again.

"I find the latest excuse that it was all the coach's fault and nothing to do with her very strange."

In the months leading into the London Games, Ostapchuk disappeared from the world track and field circuit to compete in her native Belarus - where she posted some of the biggest throws of her career.

The Belarusian federation has claimed Ostapchuk passed a number of doping tests before London 2012.

In a filmed interview with Fairfax Media, following the International Olympic Committee's outing of Ostapchuk's positive doping, Adams' coach, Jean-Pierre Egger, said he believed some countries helped athletes skirt anti-doping protocols.

Adams said she was not surprised Belarus officials had proposed a one-year ban for Ostapchuk - even though significant fault for anabolic use carries a standard penalty of two years and as much as four, if the athlete is judged to have been complicit in planning the action.

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"Of course Belarus are recommending a one-year ban, that would allow her back in time for the start of the season and major events this time next year,” Adams said.

"But it's a very unusual punishment, if it goes ahead. This year the French federation gave a 10-year ban to a steeplechase runner [Nour-Eddine Gezzar] when he tested positive [second offence].

"What actual evidence emerges of positive testing to back up their claims, and the message that the international authorities choose to send athletes, with how they deal with this, will be very interesting to see.

"It's not only important for this situation, but the future of sport in general."

- The Press

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