Friday, February 21, 2014

OLYMPICS, DAY 14: Two Athletes Fail Doping Test

"Those were the worst hours of my life. I had won at the Olympic Winter Games on the small tower. Then the doping control. My God, what I went through. Will they catch you? Or was the timing correct once again? Was everything for nothing? Will you be the one they place the blame on, the idiot that is the butt of laughter for everybody? Nobody can imagine what you go through. You even forget that you have won."

-Ski jumper Hans-Goerg Aschenbach, East Germany, in 1989, on the aftermath of winning gold in the individual normal hill at Innsbruck 1976 (he passed the doping test and was by 1989 outside of the statute of limitations)

Two athletes have become the first two- and hopefully the only two, though there are unconfirmed rumors of a third floating around out there- to be ejected from the Olympics for failing a doping test. First is a bobsledder who hasn't actually competed yet, William Frullani. He was slated to be on Italy's four-man bobsled team, and will be replaced by Samuele Romanini.

Second is a little more significant: biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle of Germany. Sachenbacher-Stehle is rather decorated up until now, and Germany, which has been long trying to shake the legacy of the old East German teams of the 60's and 70's, is particularly embarrassed. She has no medals from Sochi- though she does have a pair of fourth-place finishes- but she has five medals in cross-country skiing, which she won before switching to biathlon last year. As of right now, none of those medals have been stripped, and there's no guarantee that they will be, but in the interest of noting, here's what would happen to the standings in the relevant events if they were.

*From Salt Lake City 2002, she has gold in the 4x5-kilometer relay. Remove Germany, and it means Norway is promoted to gold, Switzerland to silver, and the Czech Republic to bronze.
*Also in Salt Lake City, she has silver in the individual sprint. Yuliya Chepalova of Russia, of course, remains in gold, but delete Sachenbacher-Stehle and it means that Anita Moen-Guidon of Norway moves up to silver, and Claudia Kunzel-Nystad of Germany gets a bronze medal in the mail.
*In Torino 2006, she has silver in the 4x5-kilometer relay. Russia still has gold. Remove Germany, and Italy is promoted to silver while Sweden is awarded bronze.
*In Vancouver 2010, she has gold in the team sprint. With Germany removed, Finland would be the new gold medalist, Russia would move up to silver, and Italy would get bronze.
*Also in Vancouver, she has silver in the 4x5-kilometer relay. Norway still has gold, but with Germany out, Finland would be promoted to silver and Italy would be given bronze.

So, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Italy as far as people who would be getting a medal who didn't have one to start with, if any or all of her medals get stripped.

The IOC's goal these days, particularly in the runup to Sochi, is first to prevent users from getting to the Olympics in the first place; then, if they can't do that, to at least keep them from reaching the medal ceremony. You can only hold the medal ceremony once. After that, the business of stripping medals and apologizing to those who were robbed of a celebration, possibly a rendition of their national anthem, that they will now never receive gets much, much messier.

Let's hope we don't end up with any of those. Let's have at least that go right.

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