Wednesday 7 December 2016

Race walk champion Loughnane owed €28k by Russian drugs cheat

Published 02/12/2016 | 02:30

Olive Loughnane, on left, with Olga Kaniskina of Russia during the medal ceremony for 20km walk in Berlin in 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Olive Loughnane, on left, with Olga Kaniskina of Russia during the medal ceremony for 20km walk in Berlin in 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Athletics champion Olive Loughnane is still owed $30,000 (€28,000) by drug cheat Olga Kaniskina and may never see any of it.

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Loughnane finished second in the final of the World Championship 20km walk in Berlin in 2009 but Russia's Olga Kaniskina, who crossed the line in first place, was later banned for doping and the Irish woman was recognised as the race winner earlier this year.

She was honoured at a ceremony at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam in July, but she is yet to receive the winning cash prize.

Kaniskina was banned for doping but hasn't returned the gold medal or the $30,000 in cash owed to Loughnane.

The sport's governing body, the IAAF, only redistributes prize money to those who were upgraded when the banned athlete pays it back first. Up to $410,000 is owed to dozens of athletes. But it's understood that Loughnane has no interest in pursuing the money.

In an interview earlier this year, Loughnane said: "I've three young children. They will be going to college. It's not an insignificant amount. I didn't earn anywhere near the amount of money as an athlete that would allow me to retire."

An IAAF statement, reported on AP, read: "We are already consulting the athletes' commission and other members of the IAAF family on a viable system that would satisfy all parties. We are confident that the changes and proposals we are compiling will be reflected in the IAAF Competition Rules."

The problem is expected to intensify with the increase in retesting of medal winners' samples years after the competition. About 100 athletes from various sports have had their results from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics annulled following new tests with improved techniques.

Cork athlete Rob Heffernan was belatedly awarded a bronze medal dating back to London 2012 in October this year.

He came fourth in the 50km walk at the time but the Russian gold medallist Sergey Kirdyapkin was subsequently disqualified for doping and his finish was upgraded.

Irish Independent

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