Saturday 26 May 2018

Russian drug cheat prepared to surrender Olympic medal to give Ireland's Rob Heffernan the bronze

Rob Heffernan (SPORTSFILE)
Rob Heffernan (SPORTSFILE)

Cathal Dennehy

Rob Heffernan’s long-awaited upgrade to an Olympic bronze medal appears closer than ever after banned Russian race walker Sergey Kirdyapkin said he was ready to hand over all his medals yesterday.

Heffernan finished fourth in the 50km race walk at the 2012 Games in London, which was won by Kirdyapkin, but the Russian was banned for three years and two months in January last year for irregularities in his biological passport, an anti-doping tool which monitors changes in an athlete’s blood profile.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) annulled Kirdyapkin’s results only until June 11, 2012 and from October 15 onwards that year, allowing him to keep his Olympic gold. In March this year, however, the IAAF appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Kirdyapkin’s hearing took place in Lausanne last month along with four other banned Russian athletes, but the results won’t be announced until February 26. As he prepares for a return to the sport this year, Kirdyapkin claimed he was innocent of the doping charges, but is nonetheless willing to surrender his Olympic gold medal.

“Once again, I have not violated anti-doping rules,” Kirdyapkin told the Russian website Allsport. 

“Second, I very much value all the medals. Each [was won through] exhausting training and hard work. But for the opportunity to come back and prove my good name, I am ready to hand over all the medals as prompted by the IAAF and VLFA (Russian Athletics Federation).”

Because his ban was backdated to 2012, Kirdyapkin will again be eligible to compete at the 2016 Olympics, which begin in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.

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