Getty Images

U.S. Olympians receive medal upgrades after doping punishments

Leave a comment

U.S. Olympians Kara Goucher and Francena McCorory are among more than a dozen athletes set to receive retroactive medal upgrades in ceremonies at the world track and field championships next month.

The results changes were made due to positive retests of past doping samples from athletes since stripped of their medals.

Goucher, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic distance runner, will be promoted from bronze to silver from the 2007 World Championships 10,000m in an Aug. 5 ceremony at London’s Olympic Stadium.

Original silver medalist Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol in a retest of a sample she gave at the 2007 World Championships, it was announced in March.

Abeylegesse also won Olympic silver medals in the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2008 Beijing Games.

American Shalane Flanagan stands to get the silver medal in the Olympic 10,000m, but that has not been announced yet. The medal upgrade ceremonies at worlds include past world championships but no past Olympic events.

U.S. 400m runner Francena McCorory will receive two medals on Aug. 4 — bronze in the 2011 World Championships 400m and gold as part of the 2013 U.S. 4x400m relay team with Jessica BeardNatasha Hastings and Ashley SpencerJoanna Atkins also ran in the preliminary heats of the relay.

Original 2011 World 400m bronze medalist Anastasia Kapachinskaya was retroactively disqualified in June after a doping sample from the 2011 Worlds was retested and found to contain banned steroids. McCorory originally finished fourth in that final.

Russia was stripped of its 2013 World 4x400m title in February after relay member Antonina Krivoshapka was retroactively banned for a doping offense. Russia beat the U.S. by .22 in that world final.

The biggest cheer at London Olympic Stadium for one of 11 medal upgrade ceremonies will come on Aug. 6, when Brit Jessica Ennis-Hill receives her 2011 World heptathlon gold after Russian Tatyana Chernova was stripped for doping.

MORE: Russia enters 19 athletes into world track and field champs

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: What happened to LaShawn Merritt?

When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

Leave a comment

Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Jade Carey clinches first U.S. Olympic gymnastics berth