Bronze upgrade for Heffernan after Russian's drug ban
World champion race walker Rob Heffernan has become the third Irish athlete in a year to be upgraded to a championship medal due to their opponents getting retrospective drug bans.
The Togher star, who was fourth in both the 20km and 50km walks at the 2010 European Championships, has learned that he will be getting upgraded to 20km bronze because Russia's Stanislav Emelyanov, who won gold in Barcelona, has been banned due to irregularities in his biological passport.
The ban dates back to July 26, 2010, just 24 hours before Emelyanov won in Spain, which rules out all his subsequent results.
Russia's dominance of race walking has lessened substantially in the past two years as over a dozen of their walkers have been banned due to improved drug detection, especially the use of biological passports.
This has resulted in much cleaner championship races and Heffernan, who also finished fourth in the London Olympics in 2012, finally got his long-awaited podium finish last summer, when he went to Moscow and won the world 50km title.
He confirmed through Twitter yesterday that he has been 'unofficially' informed that he will be promoted to a European bronze from 2010. It is a timely boost ahead of this year's European Championships, which take place in Zurich in less than two weeks time, where the Cork star is tipped to medal in the 50km event.
Heffernan also becomes the third Irish athlete to be upgraded to a medal as a result of the retrospective banning of an opponent thanks to blood testing and biological passports, a more sophisticated way of detecting cheats.
Only last month, Wicklow's Roisin McGettigan discovered that she is going to be upgraded to a bronze from the 2009 European Indoor 1500m final because the Russian winner Anna Alminova has been retrospectively banned.
Derval O'Rourke is also due to be upgraded to the 60m hurdles bronze medal from last year's European Indoors as the winner, Turkey's Nevin Yanit, has since been banned.
Yanit was suspended almost a year ago, but O'Rourke is still waiting on her medal because the international athletics federation want to increase the Turk's ban from two to four years and she is contesting that at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.