Athletics: Adams wants inquiry into rival's win

By Michael Brown

Belarusian Ostapchuk is facing a life ban for two failed drugs tests

Two-time Olympic shot-put champion Valerie Adams wants officials to look into Nadzeya Ostapchuk's win at the 2010 world indoor championships after it emerged yesterday Ostapchuk is facing a life ban for two failed drugs tests.

That result is the only time the 28-year-old Adams has been legitimately beaten in competition since 2006, but doubt must now be cast on that after the events of the last twelve months.

The Belarusian was stripped of the gold medal she won at last year's London Olympics after tests revealed metenolone in her system and she failed a second retrospective test done recently on a sample taken after her gold medal-winning performance at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki, Finland.

Pressure will now be applied by the International Association of Athletics Federations for the Belarus Athletics Federation to ban Ostapchuk for life. The Belarus federation initially proposed a one-year suspension, which caused concerns she might be free to compete at August's world championships in Moscow, but this was never ratified and the IAAF have confirmed Ostapchuk will not be competing this year and can expect a heavy sanction.

"The reason for the lengthy delays is because two different doping charges need to be considered and it is extremely likely that the final sanction will be for life," IAAF communications director Nick Davies said in a statement.

"As per our rules, the IAAF is waiting for the decision of the Belarus Athletics Federation regarding Nadzeya Ostapchuk but, until that decision is taken, Ostapchuk is provisionally suspended and will not be competing either in Moscow or at any other athletics competition."

The news will be welcomed by Adams, who has steadfastly maintained Ostapchuk should be banned for life, and her manager Nick Cowan said they now hoped Ostapchuk's win at the 2010 world indoor championships in Doha would come under scrutiny.

Adams finished second, 36cm behind Ostapchuk's winning throw of 20.85m which stands as the championship record, and it is the only time she has been beaten in competition since 2006.

"We would love for that to be investigated because that is the one title Valerie doesn't have in her illustrious career so far," Cowan said. "But we will leave that in the hands of those who are charged with that. It's not our business. We need to move forward and look at the future. I think people will be able to judge for themselves what that 2010 result was all about.

"Valerie is totally focused on 2013 now and the world champs. We are very encouraged by the IAAF stance here. The message is clear: drugs cheats will be caught and punished."

News of the IAAF's intentions has been greeted by approval from the New Zealand sporting community.

"It is very encouraging to know that the strongest sanctions are likely to be handed down," New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary-general Kereyn Smith said. "While it has been a lengthy process, it is important that it is done correctly, and especially important for our athletes to have confidence in the anti-doping system. We are looking forward to the final decision."

Those comments were echoed by Athletics New Zealand chief executive Scott Newman. "As soon as her second positive was confirmed, it was our understanding there was little option but a life ban and we're just awaiting the Belarusian federation to confirm the sanction," he said. "It's exactly as it should be and obviously good news to think one more drugs cheat is out of the system."

Ostapchuk's coach Alexander Efimov took the blame for her failed test from London, with the Belarus Athletics Federations claiming Efimov admitted he spiked her food with steroids in the run-up to the London Olympics because of concerns about her form.

She has said she was "framed" after testing positive, but the second positive test has strengthened the case against her.

Last weekend Adams narrowly won a Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon. The 28-year-old is gearing up for a tilt at a fourth world title in Moscow - hoping to become the first female thrower to win four world titles.

- APNZ

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