The women’s 1500m race at the 2012 London Games has gone down as being the one of the most tainted in Olympic history. A staggering six of the top nine athletes competing four years ago were disqualified for doping violations. The Rio final on Tuesday will hopefully be a chance for redemption.
The problems began even before the first heat in London. Moroccan Mariem Selsouli had been officially entered for the Games, but was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a diuretic at the Paris meeting in July 2012 when she had set a world leading time of 3:56.15. Second in that race in 3:56.62 was Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin, who as a junior had been banned for two years for a doping violation, but was free to compete in London thanks to the ruling which also allowed American Lashawn Merritt to contest the men’s 400m despite having served a similarly serious ban.
After a lengthy process, it was confirmed in August 2015 that Alptekin’s Athlete Biological Passport had shown an abnormality dating back to July 29, 2010. The IAAF disqualified all her results from that date.
Bulut is therefore the winner of the 2012 Olympic final, but not yet the Olympic gold medallist. Bulut has also had discrepancies show up on her biological passport which could lead to her losing her Olympic and European medals, and all medals and records from 2012 to 2016.
The IOC has yet to publicly confirm any medal re-allocation different to the original podium order of Alptekin, Gamze Bulut and Maryam Yusuf Jamal. Besides Alptekin, six other women were also disqualified from the event for doping violations: teammate Bulut, Belarus’ Natallia Kareiva, Russian Yekaterina Kostetskaya, and Ukrainian duo Anna Mishchenko and Anzhela Shevchenko, as well as Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi, who initially finished the final in fifth place but had also failed a drug test.
“I am praying going into this championship that it will be a cleaner Olympics than before,” said American Shannon Rowbury with some understatement.
Rowbury finished sixth in London but could be in position to grab a belated silver should the IOC eventually reallocate the medals. “Unfortunately that is out of my hands. I speak out because I want the federation to make changes and it does look like it is going that way,” the American said.
Genzebe Dibaba comes into the competition with her own problems. The world champion’s Somali coach Jama Aden was arrested in Spain in June as part of an investigation into drug trafficking. At the same time, she skipped Diamond League meets in Oslo and Stockholm.
After breaking the world indoor mile record and winning the world indoor 3000m title at the start of the year, the Ethiopian delayed the start to her outdoor campaign due to a troublesome toe injury.