ALMOST 14 years after she finished sixth at the Athens Olympics, Anju Bobby George and two other long jumpers — from UK and Australia — who failed to make it to the podium have got the support of their athletics federations in their bid to claim the medals they missed out on.
Last month, the athletics federations of India, UK and Australia sent a letter to the CEO of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Olivier Gers, calling for an investigation into the event. They also want the IAAF to petition the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to annul the results of the 2004 Summer Games as the three medal winners from Russia — Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova — have since been charged with doping.
The event has already seen a revision, with Marion Jones, who came fourth, being stripped of her position after an alleged doping offence. This has pushed Anju to fifth place, between Australia’s Bronwyn Thompson (4th) and Great Britain’s Jade Johnson (6th). If the IAAF and the IOC agree to their claim, Anju could end up with an Olympic silver — which would make it a first for an Indian in track and field events.
The federations have cited the report by World Anti-Doping Agency’s investigator Richard McLaren, which exposed the institutionalised doping by Russian athletes for years and resulted in them being banned from the 2016 Rio Games and this year’s Winter Olympics. “It is impossible to know just how deep and how far back this conspiracy goes,” McLaren had said after releasing his report in 2016.
“For years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field. Sports fans and spectators have been deceived,” he said.
Anju said she was hopeful of the IAAF asking the IOC to consider taking back the medals from the Russians. “We have the backing of three athletics federations. Now everyone knows that the Russians have been indulging in state-sponsored doping for years. This is like the BALCO case where a lab (based in California) was supplying previously undetectable drugs to athletes,” she said, adding that if she had competed against clean athletes she would have won a medal at Athens.
“I can confirm that three federations, including India, have written a letter to the IAAF CEO requesting the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to investigate the matter,” said her lawyer Vidushpat Singhania.
The three federations have sought a probe to find out whether the three Russian medal winners had a doping past that predated the Athens Olympics.
Lebedeva, who won the gold at Athens, was stripped of her silver medals in the long jump and triple jump events at the 2008 Beijing Games after retests of samples revealed the presence of a steriod.
Simagina tested positive in 2012 and was barred from the London Olympic Games.
Re-testing of Kotova’s samples in 2013, taken at the 2005 World Championships, showed that she had been doping just a year after the Athens Olympics.