Ostapchuk joins Olympics Hall of Shame

By Paul Harper

Marion Jones competes at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Marion Jones competes at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Nadzeya Ostapchuk joins a long list of Olympians who have been stripped of medals for doping - a list which includes some the world's most high profile athletes.

Ostapchuk, the winner of the women's shot put in London last week, has tested positive for banned substance metenolone, elevating New Zealand's Valerie Adams into gold medal position.

The Belarusian follows in the footsteps of numerous other Summer and Winter Olympians who have stood at the top of the podium to hear their national anthem before later being stripped of their medal.

Among the most famous are sprinters Marion Jones of the USA and Canada's Ben Johnson.

Jones won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, and bronze in the long jump and 4x100m relay at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, but forfeited all her medals when she admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in 2007.

Johnson was also at the top of the world when he won the high profile men's 100m in world record time at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, only to lose the coveted gold medal and the record days years later when he tested positive for stanozolol.

The first Olympian to be stripped of a medal was way back in 1968, when Swedish pentathlon team member Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall and his teammates had to hand back their bronze medals - after Lilijenwall confessed to having drunk two beers to steady his nerves before the pistol shoot.

Mexico in 1968 was the first Games to have anti-drug measures, but the Swedes were perhaps unlucky to have the honour of being the first country to fall foul of the rules - rivals were rumoured to have tested positive for taking tranquillisers ahead of the shoot, although these were legal at the time.

While the bulk of Summer Olympic drug cheats look for an edge on the track or in weightlifting competitions, another who looked to steady his nerves was Kim Jong-su of North Korea, who lost his silver won in the 50 metre pistol and bronze in the 10 metre air pistol at the Beijing Games for taking beta-blocker propranolol, which prevents trembling.

It's not just athletes who have been stripped of medals. Four years ago, Norway was stripped of its bronze in the team showjumping after capsaicin was found in the horse of team member Tony Andre Hansen. Hansen was not the only one to give his horse the performance enhancing painkiller - Germany, Brazil and Ireland were also disqualified for the same offence.

Ostapchuk is not the first Belarusian to recently test positive for performance enhancing drugs; Hammer thrower Ivan Tsikhan was kicked out of the London Games because of a positive test from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

The drugs are not always performance enhancing, with USA judoka Nicholas Delpopolo expelled from the London Games after eating food containing marijuana prior to the games.

- Herald online

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