Nick Willis looks set to remain the Beijing Olympic 1500m silver medallist forever.

In the wake of Kenyan champion Asbel Kiprop failing an out-of-competition doping test for a banned substance recently, expectations rose there might be a chance for a retest from the race on August 19, 2008.

Willis' chances of joining Jack Lovelock, Sir Peter Snell and Sir John Walker as New Zealand's fourth Olympic 1500m champion remained a possibility, albeit slim.

The samples were originally meant to be held eight years but the World Anti-Doping Agency revised its code in 2015 to extend the statute of limitations for retests to 10 years.


However, a source informed the Weekend Herald that the International Olympic Committee disposed of the Beijing samples from their Lausanne laboratory in 2016. That claim was confirmed by a New Zealand Olympic Committee spokesperson. The NZOC had followed up the issue independently.

Kiprop alleged he was the victim of corrupt doping control officers who, after collecting his drug test, tried to extort money and taint his urine sample.

However, the Athletics Integrity Unit — an organisation fully-independent of the IAAF athletics governing body — said Kiprop had received advance warning of an out-of-competition test in Kenya and maintained the charge for using the banned blood booster EPO was legitimate.

The AIU insisted Kiprop's positive test had not been tampered with by officials.
In a statement released via his lawyer, Kiprop claimed he wired funds to one of the doping control officers by mobile phone while they were still in his house in Iten, Kenya, last November. He learned the sample was positive in February.

"I remain perplexed on how my innocent sample could turn positive on the only time when money was extorted from me," he said via a statement.

"It is not beyond my suspicion that my sample turned positive because I might have remitted less money than was expected to remit."

If Kiprop's claims prove false, any ban is only likely to backdate a couple of years but it would raise a question: how long had he doped?

That prompts a step back to the Willis scenario.


Kiprop was promoted to Olympic gold — and Willis to silver — in 2008 after a positive doping test saw original winner Rashid Ramzi disqualified the following year.

Willis described any potential upgrade to a gold medal as a "moot point" when interviewed last month by the Weekend Herald.

The 35-year-old said that having already endured the Ramzi saga, he preferred to reflect on the joy taken from an elite running career spanning most of this century.

However, he said it was "very important" justice was served for any doping violations.

"The public and fans have every right to assume a high percentage of everyone is on it [banned substances].

"I don't judge anyone for casting doubt on anyone in races, including me, because that's how poor our sport has done the job at keeping clean. That's the most frustrating part."