Belarus' Nadzeya Ostapchuk takes a throw in the women's shot put final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Olympic women’s shot put champion Nadezhda Ostapchuk has been stripped of the gold medal she won at the London Games a week ago after testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid.
Two urine samples taken from the Belarussian before and after her win last Monday tested positive for metenolone, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement on Monday.
“Ostapchuk...is disqualified from the women's shot put event, where she had placed first (and) is excluded from the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London,” the statement said.
Belarus had been ordered to return Ostapchuk’s gold medal which would now be awarded to New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, who also won in 2008, it added. Russian Evgeniia Kolodko would move up to silver and China’s Gong Lijiao would get bronze.
Ostapchuk, who had won the gold with a throw of 21.36 metres, was world champion in 2005 and European champion two years ago. In July, at a meeting in Minsk, she threw 21.58, the best outdoor distance in the world since 1998. On Monday, Ostapchuk denied any wrongdoing.
“To be honest I don't know all the details because I just got this information myself from the internet,” the 31-year-old said.
“It's a complete shock to me because I was tested on July 30 (before going to London). It showed I was clean,” she said, adding that she would wait for the Belarussian delegation to return before deciding what to do next. “In total, I've been tested 16 times since April. You must be a complete idiot to take doping just before the competition especially such an outdated drug as a steroid, knowing you’re going to be tested several times.”
Ostapchuk also accused Olympic organisers of prejudice against the Belarussian athletes.
“You all know how we had been treated there, just ask Ivan Tsikhan,” she said, referring to the Belarussian hammer thrower, who was prevented from competing in London following a request from the sport's world governing body (IAAF).
“We must fight for our rights. If we remain silent, then they will continue to humiliate us.”
Tsikhan won the bronze in Beijing four years ago but was stripped of the medal after tests showed his testosterone levels were above acceptable limits.