Poonia set for London promotion

Moving up: Discus thrower set to rise to sixth place after silver medalist banned

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: May 1, 2013 1:50:28 am

India’s Krishna Poonia is set to gain a place — from seventh to sixth — in the final of the women’s discus throw at the London Games after the Russian athletics federation (VFLA) handed a 10-year ban to its silver medallist Darya Pishchalnikova. The 27-year old’s sample taken in May last year was re-tested and returned positive tests for anabolic steroid oxandrolone,the VFLA announced on its website on Tuesday.

All of Pishchalnikova’s results from May 20,2012 have been annulled,which in turn means she will lose the silver won at the London Games. The Russian had served a doping ban of two years and nine months from July 2008 to April 2011.

Reacting to the news Poonia said: “I am happy that I am in line to move up a place in the Olympics. To know that you have finished in the top-6 is a great feeling. However,I wish that these positive results had come immediately after the event at London itself rather than after so many months. But it is good that those who have cheated are getting caught,” Poonia told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

Pishchalnikova was also one of the seven female Russian athletes found guilty of manipulating drug samples ahead of the Beijing Games in 2008.

She won silver at the 2007 world championships in Osaka,Japan,but was stripped of the medal after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) annulled all her results from May that year.

Incidentally,the gold-medal winner in the women’s discus throw at London,Sandra Perkovic of Croatia,had tested positive for a methylhexanamine — a stimulant — in mid-2011 but was allowed to compete in the London Games.

Poonia is not the only Indian athlete who may gain after positive test results of Russian athletes. Anju Bobby George’s silver at the Monaco Athletics Finals in 2005 could be upgraded to gold because the winner — Russia’s Tatyana Kotova — is under a dope cloud after the IAAF announced that she and five other athletes had returned positive tests in re-tests of samples collected from the Helsinki World Championships,held a few months prior to the Monaco event.

Arzhakova banned

In a separate case,European 800 metres champion Yelena Arzhakova was banned for two years,starting from January 29,2013,for showing an “abnormal haemoglobin profile in her biological passport”,the VFLA said.

Arzhakova,23,who finished sixth in the 800-metre Olympic final in London won by team mate Mariya Savinova,will have all her results from July 12,2011 nullified,meaning she will be stripped of her European title.

It was the latest in a series of doping offences by leading Russian athletes. VFLA chief Valentin Balakhnichyov said his country,which will host the world athletics championships in Moscow in August,had been wrongly singled out for being too soft on drugs cheats.

More cases expected

In an interview with Reuters last week,he sounded a warning to potential doping offenders,saying he expected more cases to be revealed in the future.

“We do more drugs tests than any other country in the world. Some nations only do 500 tests a year. We did 3,500 tests last year alone and this year we plan to do over 4,000 tests in and out of competition,so don’t be surprised if you hear about a few more suspensions coming our way,” he said.

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