Saturday 16 December 2017

Olympic star Robert Heffernan finally receives bronze medal after doper is disqualified

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

50km race walker Robert Heffernan will finally be able to call himself an Olympic medalist after the results achieved by Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin at London 2012 were disqualified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Russian athlete, who took gold in the race, subsequently failed a doping test and today's news means that Corkman Heffernan, who finished fourth on the day, will be automatically promoted into third place.

"All competitive results obtained by Mr Sergey Kirdyapkin from 20 August 2009 to 15 October 2012 are disqualified," the CAS ruling stated today.

Another Irish athlete, Olive Loughnane, has also received a boost by being upgraded to gold in the 20k walk from the 2009 World Championships after the original winner, Russian Olga Kaniskina, was also stripped of her results.

Rob Heffernan (SPORTSFILE)
Rob Heffernan (SPORTSFILE)

Heffernan has long been one of Ireland's most successful athletes, and although he was deprived of celebrating his Olympic medal on the podium, the 38-year-old will have an opportunity to remedy that when he competes in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Previously, he took gold in the 50km walk at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013. He has also successfully raced at the 20km, taking a bronze medal at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010.

Heffernan's retrospective bronze medal makes him the third Irish athlete to win an Olympic track and field medal in the last 50 years, with John Treacy winning silver in the Marathon in 1984 and Sonia O'Sullivan coming second in the 5000m in 2000.

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