Olive Loughnane set to enjoy belated golden moment after Olga Kaniskina ban

Olive Loughnane looks set to be awarded the gold medal for the 20km race walk from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin after Russia’s Olga Kaniskina was yesterday banned by the Russian Anti-doping Agency for an anti-doping rule violation.

Olive Loughnane
Olive Loughnane

“It all happened so quickly,” said Loughnane. “In the space of lunchtime I went from having a silver medal to hopefully having gold.

“I don’t know how it’s going to pan out now but the reality of it is the Russians have come out and said she was dirty in that race so I was the fastest on the day. It doesn’t matter what they can’t take that away from me.”

Kaniskina was a three-time world champion and Olympic champion in 2008, but will now serve a three-year, two-months ban, which has been backdated to October 15, 2012. Her results from July 15, 2009 to September 16, 2009 and from July 30, 2011 to November 8, 2011 will now be annulled, which will see her lose out on two of her three world titles.

Despite missing out on being crowned world champion on the day and hearing Amhrán na bhFiann being played, Loughnane has little regret.

“I was on the podium,” she said. “I was in the best position anyone could possibly be. Obviously the difference was being a silver medallist and a world champion. At the same time it is what it is. She has to have stood there knowing she was dirty. I’m sure she didn’t get the same kick out of her gold as I got out of my silver.”

Kaniskina has been a long-time member of the notorious Russian walking group in Saransk, led by Viktor Chegin, and the latest results are what is most significant to Loughnane.

“It’s very clear that it is a doping programme,” she said. “That’s the significant thing. You must remember it is a pocket in Russia, a particular group. Hopefully it’s been killed for good.”

Also suspended were 2012 Olympic champion over 50K, Sergey Kirdyapkin, and 2010 European bronze medalist, Sergey Bakulin. In both events, Ireland’s Rob Heffernan finished fourth.

The bad news for the Cork athlete, though, is it looks doubtful he will be upgraded to bronze in either event.

Kirdyapkin’s three-year, two-month suspension was backdated to October 15th, 2012, with his results annulled only from the following periods: January 25, 2011 to March 25, 2011, from June 16, 2011 to August 16, 2011, and from April 11, 2012 to June 11, 2012.

“That’s not credible,” answered Lougnane on the dates of the bans. “It looks like they are trying to hold on to their Olympic medals.”

The IAAF have said it is too early to comment fully on the results.

“The usual procedure according to IAAF Rules is to wait for the fully reasoned explanation (in English) for the sanctions that were announced in the Russian media as a written document from our Member Federation in Russia,” said IAAF director of communications Nick Davis. “Only at that stage are we then able to analyse and decide if we accept, or if we reject.”

All of the latest news is a positive step to clean sport for Loughnane.

“The thing is if I was an athlete competing I would be so excited now,” she said.

“I’d be training with a spring in my step and really looking forward to championships.”



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