James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Adams may be facing long wait for gold

Valerie Adams was initially awarded silver for the shot-put but days later the gold medallist was disqualified for doping. File photo / Brett Phibbs
Valerie Adams was initially awarded silver for the shot-put but days later the gold medallist was disqualified for doping. File photo / Brett Phibbs

Olympic shot-put champion Valerie Adams is anxious to get her hands on the gold medal she was denied by a drug cheat but is steeling herself for what could be a long wait.

Her manager, Nick Cowan, said Adams, who is in Stockholm, was keen to celebrate her medal.

"If a medal was available today she wants it today, which is fair enough. But she wants to celebrate it in New Zealand as well and, in all reality, I think what we are staring at is a medal presentation in New Zealand, which she is really excited about.

"But we don't know if that is going to be in a month's time, three, 10 or 12 so therefore we are preparing ourselves for a long haul.

"We can only hope that it will be quick and this side of Christmas, but it may not be and I have had that discussion with Valerie."

The International Olympic Committee told the Herald via email that the Belarus National Olympic Committee would return the medal from disgraced athlete Nadzeya Ostapchuk to its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

But it gave no indication of when this would happen or what kind of response it had received from the Belarusians.

Mr Cowan was unclear if Adams had returned her silver medal, which will now go to Russia's Evgeniia Kolodko. He is waiting to hear from the IOC and the New Zealand Olympic Committee about what will happen from here.

NZOC spokeswoman Ashley Abbott could not be contacted for comment but a staff member, who did not want to be named, seemed doubtful Adams would receive her gold medal this year.

"The fact that the Belarus athlete is defending her charge might prolong things," she said.

The staff member pointed to the dramas middle-distance runner Nick Willis endured before his bronze medal was upgraded to silver - 18 months after he ran in the 1500 metre final in Beijing four years ago.

A number of scenarios have been presented on where Adams could be presented with her medal, but Brett Addison of Athletics New Zealand seemed dubious about them and also the likelihood of a swift ceremony.

Among the ideas was that Adams be presented with her medal when the All Blacks play England at Twickenham this year. "My personal feeling is that it would be better with an event that people can get to easily rather than paying £100 to go to a rugby match so people could see it," Mr Addison said.

"It won't be next week, and from what Ostapchuk is saying she will hand over that medal very reluctantly. It sounds like the government over there and the sports drug agency are supporting her."

Graeme Steel, Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive, said Ostapchuk still had a reasonable timeframe to appeal the IOC decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"There are two tracks here; one is the IOC decision which is about the medal. The IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] will also pick up the case and they will hold a hearing to determine whether she will be banned."

Mr Steel said if Ostapchuk wanted to keep the medal she would have to prove the original test results were wrong. "That is the only way."

- NZ Herald

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