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Caster Semenya Likely Faces a Medal Upgrade After Russian is Banned for Doping

When Caster Semenya lost the 2012 London Olympics gold medal to Mariya Savinova, it was unbelievable that the former who dominated in the Heats was convincingly washed out in the final race.

It would later come to light that Savinova was one of the several Russian athletes named in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report exposing the corruption and doping in the Russian athletics camp.

The report which shows hidden recordings from 2014 where the 800-meter runner admits to doping with the banned steroid Oxandrolone or “ox”, has led to the Russian’s four-year ban.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) delivered its verdict after the IAAF filed a case against Savinova and colleagues.

The CAS statement read, “On the basis of clear evidence, including the evidence derived from her biological passport (ABP), Mariya Savinova is found to have been engaged in using doping from 26 July 2010 (the eve of the European Championship in Barcelona) through to 19 August 2013 (the day after the World Championship in Moscow).

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”As a consequence, a four-year period of ineligibility, beginning on 24 August 2015, has been imposed and all results achieved between 26 July 2010 and 19 August 2013, are disqualified and any prizes, medals, prize and appearance money forfeited.”[/perfectpullquote]

Any results recorded over three years have been wiped out meaning Semenya who finished second in London and the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, is set to become a double Olympic and World Champion.

The four-year ban also strips Savinova of her 800m silver medal she won in the 2013 World Championship and will be backdated to 2015. In effect, the ban shows that the continuous fight against doping which is keen on catching up with cheating athletics even years after an event.

Savinova who was preparing for a comeback after being inactive since 2013, was one of Russia’s prolific middle-distance athletes but has now been tainted as one of the country’s infamous drug cheats.

Semenya on the other hand, made a remarkable return amidst controversy and personal challenges to win gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and World Championship in the same year.

Should the International Olympic Committee upgrade the medal rankings from 2012 final, the South African champion will have two top tier medal wins to add to her impressive record.

Kenya is also a likely beneficiary after 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist, Ekaterina Poistogova was blacklisted among the athletes WADA is considering to ban for life. Pamela Jelimo of Kenya who won gold in Beijing four years earlier finished fourth in 2012 London final.

Reallocating the medals would be a much easier task than reclaiming the huge winning earnings the Russians were awarded in addition to losses made by national associations or personal sponsors, whose athletes failed to meet the desired target at the games.



Featured photo: Mariya Savinova is likely to lose her 2012 Olympic gold medal and World Championship title to Caster Semenya. (PA)

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