American Lashinda Demus has been upgraded from silver to gold in the 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles by the IOC, five months after the original gold medalist was retroactively disqualified for doping.
The IOC announcement came three months after World Athletics changed its results, also moving Demus to gold, Czech Zuzana Hejnová from bronze to silver and Jamaican Kaliese Spencer from fourth to bronze.
Demus can choose how to receive her medal, including at the next Olympics, at a USOPC function, another international track and field event or a private function.
Russian Natalya Antyukh, the original winner by seven hundredths of a second over Demus, had her results from July 2012 through June 2013 retroactively stripped by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency last October. Antyukh, who last competed in 2016, was already serving a four-year doping ban and did not appeal the stripping of her Olympic title.
“Hearing the news didn’t impact my mood or feelings being that it has been 10 years since it has happened,” Demus, who last competed in 2016, wrote in an email after the October announcement. “I have mixed emotions about it all. I do believe that if, in fact, there was doping involved with anyone in the Olympics that they should be stripped of their medal. With everything being said it looks like this is the case for my race. I’m not afraid to say that I then deserve the official title, medal, recognition, and missed compensation that goes along with it all. I wouldn’t want any athlete to go through this same situation and I hope that keeping athletes honest in our sport stays at the forefront for those who sacrifice a good part of their life to be great at it.”
In the 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles final, Antyukh, then 31, lowered her personal best by 22 hundredths of a second to hold off Demus, the reigning world champion.
“Of course, I wanted the gold medal; I will not stop until I get the gold medal,” Demus told Lewis Johnson on NBC after the race, voicing a desire to return for the 2016 Olympics (which she did not do after a series of injuries).
At the time, Demus was the third-fastest woman in history in the event and the American record holder with a personal best of 52.47 seconds.
Demus, a 2004 Olympian, missed the 2008 Beijing Games by one spot at Olympic Trials after giving birth to twins in June 2007. She also won world championships medals in 2005 (silver), 2009 (silver), 2011 (gold) and 2013 (bronze).
Demus becomes, retroactively, the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic 400m hurdles title. Dalilah Muhammad won the event in 2016 and Sydney McLaughlin two years ago in Tokyo.
Russia originally won eight track and field gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. Due to doping, that number is now down to one — high jumper Anna Chicherova, who was stripped of her 2008 Olympic bronze medal for doping.
The span between Antyukh winning an Olympic medal and it being stripped for doping may be the longest for the Summer Games since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 2000 Olympic cycling time trial bronze medal more than 12 years after the race. That medal was not reallocated. Spain’s Abraham Olano, the fourth-place finisher, was not upgraded and later had his name come up in a French senate report of cyclists who doped in the 1998 Tour de France.
Also Thursday, the IOC announced that it reallocated medals in the 2012 Olympic women’s 20km race walk after Russian gold and silver medalists Elena Lashmanova and Olga Kaniskina were previously given retroactive doping bans.
The new podium is all China, giving that nation its first Olympic track and field medals sweep, according to Olympedia.org. It also swept medals in badminton in table tennis events.
Shenjie Qieyang, who originally finished third, has been upgraded to gold. Liu Hong went from fourth to silver. Lu Xiuzhi went from fifth to bronze.
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