Heffernan to get upgraded to Euro bronze after Russian banned for drugs
IRELAND'S world 50km race walking champion Rob Heffernan is to be upgraded to a European bronze medal after one of his opponents was retrospectively banned for doping back in 2010.
The feisty Cork athlete finished fourth in both the 20km and 50km races at the 2010 Europeans in Barcelona, which was the first time he doubled up and raced the 'marathon' distance at a major championship.
The European 20km title was won by Stanilav Emlyanov four years ago but it has now emerged that the Russian has been stripped of his gold medal as a result of irregularities in his biological passport and, as a result, Heffernan is going to be promoted to third.
The Togher AC star tweeted the news today, saying: "Unofficially being told that I am going to receive the BRONZE medal for Euro Champs 2010 20km after Russian has been done for drugs."
Russia has long been the super-power of race walking but over a dozen of their walkers have been caught doping in the past two years thanks to more effective drug-testing.
That is believed to have contributed to substantially cleaner championships races and been a factor in Heffernan (36) finally making a global podium last year, when he went to Moscow and took home gold.
This latest news means that, after coming agonisingly close to a championship medal for so long, Heffernan (36) has now won two, and he is tipped to get a third at this year's edition of Europeans, which will take place in Zurich in a fortnight's time, where he is racing just the 50km distance.