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Tuesday 26, Aug 2008

  Ukrainian heptathlete blames husband-coach for positive steroid test

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ukraine-steroids‘Tis the season of fingerpointing once again in the doping world. This fingerpointing incident, however, might interest many as matrimonial bliss is now at stake in this latest steroid-related scandal.

Lyudmila Blonska, one of the unfortunate few who got caught by the anti-doping officials in Beijing, points toward her husband (we bet you with her ring finger) Sergei Blonsky. Poor Blonsky, he did not utter a protest or else he would face cold nights on the floor.

Blonska was stripped of her silver medal on Friday because she tested positive for the steroid methyltestosterone. The test was conducted at 2am following her second-place victory in the heptathlon last Saturday. Fellow Ukrainian Nataliia Dobrynska won the gold.
The International Olympic Committee has reportedly asked Blonska to hand back the silver medal after her failed doping test.

According to an AP report, Blonska was temporarily suspended by the IOC on Thursday and her medal was officially removed Friday by the IOC executive board.  The IOC has also asked the International Association of Athletics Federation to adjust the event’s results and deliberate further on Blonska’s case. Blonska could receive additional sanctions which could likely include a lifetime ban from the sport. This is strike two for Blonska as she tested positive for another banned compound stanozolol five years ago. She was suspended for two years for that first offense. (It seems to Blonska steroid use is such a hard habit to break).

Blonska was also dropped from Friday’s long jump final after finishing third in the qualifying that took place earlier in the week. Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare competed in her lieu and won the bronze medal in the final event.

Reports say that Blonska expressed “shock” at the doping results saying she could not understand how the steroid wound up in her system. Blonska said she offered apologies to anti-doping officials and felt ashamed. She then blamed her husband for the failed doping test. Blonsky has been her coach for five years.

“She expressed that she trusted him to take care of her training and diet,” the IOC said. “She indicated that they had expressly agreed that she would not take any prohibited substances. However, her relationship with her husband was currently conflictual.” (We think “conflictual” is the euphemism for matrimonial bloodbath).

The Ukrainian team officials are likewise understandably unhappy with the positive test results. Blonska’s B sample came back positive on Thursday. The officials apologized for the positive results and described the incident as an “extraordinary case” because of her husband’s role. As such, the Ukrainian officials scheduled a meeting next Friday to hear out the case according to the IOC.

There is, however, the happy lot who welcomed Blonska’s disgraceful exit from the Olympics. One of whom was Carolina Kluft, the 2004 Olympic heptathlon champion who finished ninth in the long jump Friday.

“She doesn’t deserve my thought,” the Swede said. “I am just happy she got caught and is out of the sport forever.”

Britain’s elite long jumper Kelly Sotherton, who moved up to fourth in the heptathlon results due to Blonka’s, had continuously complained that Blonska should be disqualified from the Olympics because of her previous doping record.

“It’s great news, even if it’s quite negative,” she said. “It’s great news for my event and the other girls, especially as there was a medal on the line and hopefully that’s the last of her. I won’t have to talk about her again or compete against her again.”

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.”