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Friday 22, Aug 2008

  Ohuruogu’s Olympic gold tarnished by missed steroid tests

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Christine Ohuruogu SteroidsBritish printer Christine Ijeoma Ohuruogu should have been touted as heroine back in her homeland, but that is not the case. Her triumphs in the track are overshadowed by her three – yes, not one but three – missed doping tests.

Her missed doping tests calls for the question: Did she win the Olympic gold through legitimate means?

Ohuruogu, who specializes in the 400 meters, is currently the most successful and probably the most notorious track athlete in Great Britain today. She currently holds the Commonwealth, World and Olympic titles in said event. That’s some accomplishment for a girl of 24 years, yet the Britons are having second thoughts of raining praises on Ohuruogu. Many ask: Does she deserve to be the poster girl for the 2012 Summer Games London.

Based on the accounts of several newspapers in her homeland the answer to that big Q could be a big NO. One British newspaper has the headline “New golden girl Christine Ohuruogu will be forever tarnished”, which sort of sums up the public’s image of the track champ.

Ohuruogu beat the favorite Sanya Richards of the USA with her time of 49.62 making the Nigerian-born Ohuruogo as the first British woman to top the event and only the fourth to earn a gold medal on the track. But, still there are the three missed doping tests.  The Times provides details of those missed tests.

Ohuruogu missed three random drug tests between October 2005 and July 2006. Athletes have to say where they will be for an hour every day for five days a week; a UK Sport tester can then turn up at the allotted place unannounced.

After the third missed test, Ohuruogu received a one-year ban from the International Association of Athletics Federations, athletics’ governing body, and had her British Sport Lottery funding stopped. She took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but it upheld the ban while stating that there had been “no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs” and that “this case can be viewed in all the circumstances as a busy young athlete being forgetful”.

Ohuruogu was also banned for life from the Olympics because of a British Olympic Association bylaw barring anyone with a doping conviction from representing Britain. Ohuruogu completed her one-year exile only three weeks before the World Championships in Japan last year, where she made a remarkable comeback by winning the 400 metres. She then overturned her BOA ban on appeal. The independent Sports Dispute Resolutions Panel agreed that there had been significant mitigating circumstances.

Her reason for missing the second test was that she was at home finishing an article for a charity newspaper when she should have been at Northwick Park, North London. Ohuruogo said she spoke to the tester, who told her she was allowed to wait for only an hour, when it would have taken the athlete 90 minutes to make the trip.

The final straw came when she was not at the Mile End stadium when a tester turned up. “We went to train at Mile End but there was a school sports day so we made a last-minute change and went to Crystal Palace,” she said.

The article continues that it remains to be seen whether Ohuruogu will be honored the way past female track champions were recognized – Ann Packer is an MBE, Sally Gunnell an OBE and Kelly Homes is a Dame.

If you asked us, we think she deserves some kind of recognition from the British Empire. If Elton John was knighted by singing “candle in the wind” then, certainly, Ohuruogu merits a “Dame” before her name.

Thursday 21, Aug 2008

  Christine Ohuruogu is now track’s golden girl despite missed steroid tests

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Christine Ohuruogu SteroidsYou’ve got to give to it to Christine Ohuruogu. This 24-year-old Brit girl is so good in running – running on the track and running from doping-steroid tests.

Despite being banned for one year, Ohuruogu stood on the podium on Tuesday, basking in Olympic glory after finishing the 400-meter event at 49.62 seconds. Stunning is what many described the race, in which Shericka Williams of Jamaica took the silver while Sanya Richards of the United States, the event’s favorite, earned the bronze medal.

FYI, Ohuruogu missed three doping (steroid) tests in the period between October 2005 and July 2006 and because of those infringements she was served one-year ban lasting until August last year. After a mere three weeks after serving her ban, she won her world title in Osaka, Japan.

Subsequent to her third missed test, she received the ban from the International Association of Athletics Federations. Ohuruogu attempted to overturn the ban by taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS upheld the decision of the IAAF.  CAS, however, stated that “no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs” and that “this case can be viewed in all the circumstances as a busy young athlete being forgetful”.

The Nigerian-born Ohuruogu also received a lifetime ban from the Olympics because of a British Olympic Association bylaw barring anyone with a doping conviction from representing Britain. She was able to challenge and won the BOA ban on appeal as the independent Sports Dispute Resolutions Panel agreed that there had been “significant mitigating circumstances.”
We thought that being ‘forgetful’ is a lame excuse for going around dope tests, but it seems it’s considered as a valid reason. Other athletes, we’re sure, we’ll be a tad forgetful during screening time.

As for her recent victory in Beijing, Ohuruogo says: “I am just so proud of myself. I know I am the type of athlete who rises to the big occasion.”

The AFP describes Ohurougu’s winning moment and the dejection of those who aspired for the gold and lost it to the controversial Briton. The drama unfolds in Beijing:

Ohuruogu … looked out of it rounding the bend and with 100 metres to go.

(Sanya) Richards, who had said last week that she thought the Briton was fortunate to be competing here, looked at that point set fair for the gold she believed was her due after a miserable year suffering from a rare illness in 2007 as she had a clear lead.

However, down the straight the Jamaican-born naturalised American started to tie up and Ohuruogu’s more measured and controlled race paid off as she passed two Russians and then the final prize of 23-year-old Richards.

Ohuruogu crossed the line just ahead of the fast-finishing Williams, who had passed a tiring Richards.

Ohuruogu could scarcely believe what she had achieved, sinking to her knees and then lying on her back.

Richards, who as a result of Behcet’s disease suffered such bad mouth ulcers that she could not eat or talk and dreadful lesions on her legs, cut a dejected figure.

“I’m not well. I just worked so hard for this.

“This is so devastating for me. I was in control coming round the curve and then my right hamstring cramped on me.

“It went with 70 metres to go. I feel so betrayed by my body again.

“It’s such a tough break.”