Meddling with medals

A look at how women’s championship sprint finals have been affected by drug busts

Posted on March 19, 2011 by
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Marion Jones, Zhanna Block, Ekatherini Thanou (Mark Shearman)

Just when it seemed as though the BALCO scandal had fizzled out, along came another revelation in the form of Mark Block’s 10-year ban, putting the sport – and drugs – back in the headlines.

I say ‘revelation’, but few will be surprised by the news that Block supplied drugs to his wife Zhanna Block, winner of three world titles (200m in 1997, 100m in 2001, 60m in 2003). Back in 2004 Victor Conte, the man at the centre of the BALCO scandal, went on record to say that he had supplied Block with performance-enhancing drugs.

It is not yet known whether the now-retired Zhanna Block will be given a ban or have any retroactive disqualifications. The Ukrainian will only have medals taken away from her if there exists evidence proving she was taking drugs when she won them.

Nevertheless, the latest implications further muddy what is already a very messy picture of women’s sprint finals at major championships from the mid-Nineties onwards. The biggest irony being that should Block lose her world 100m title, the medal could be handed on to Ekaterini Thanou, the Greek athlete who is currently involved in an on-going legal battle for making false statements to police to avoid a doping test on the eve of the 2004 Olympics.

In a landmark move the IOC recently stepped in to ensure that, given her tainted reputation, Thanou remained as the silver medallist from the Sydney Olympics when Marion Jones’ gold medal was taken away. Whether the IAAF or WADA will follow suit with the medals from the 2001 World Championships – should this current case arrive at such a situation – remains to be seen.

To illustrate just how much women’s championship sprint finals have been affected by drug busts, below is a snapshot of the changes in medal positions, starting from 1997 (the Marion Jones era). Note how many tainted athletes end up with medal upgrades, or remain in a medal position.

Key:
Name – Official doping disqualification
Name – Athlete previously or subsequently served a ban or implicated in doping, but not disqualified from this particular race

1997

World Championships 100m

Place Athlete Country Time
1 Marion Jones USA 10.83
2 Zhanna Pintusevich UKR 10.85
3 Sevatheda Fynes BAH 11.03
4 Christine Arron FRA 11.05
5 Inger Miller USA 11.18
6 Melanie Paschke GER 11.19
7 Merlene Ottey JAM 11.29
8 Chryste Gaines USA 11.32

World Championships 200m

Place Athlete Country Time
1 Zhanna Pintusevich UKR 22.32
2 Susanthika Jayasinghe SRI 22.39
3 Merlene Ottey JAM 22.40
4 Yekaterina Leshchova RUS 22.50
5 Inger Miller USA 22.52
6 Marina Trandenkova RUS 22.65
7 Melinda Gainsford AUS 22.73
8 Sylviane Felix FRA 22.81

1999

World Championships 100m

Place Athlete Country Time
1 Marion Jones USA 10.70
2 Inger Miller USA 10.79
3 Ekaterini Thanou GRE 10.84
4 Zhanna Pintusevich UKR 10.95
5 Gail Devers USA 10.95
6 Christine Arron FRA 10.97
7 Chandra Sturrup BAH 11.06
8 Mercy Nku NGR 11.16

2000

Olympic Games 100m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Marion Jones USA 10.75
2 2 Ekaterini Thanou GRE 11.12
2 3 Tayna Lawrence JAM 11.18
3 4 Merlene Ottey JAM 11.19
4 5 Zhanna Pintusevich UKR 11.20
5 6 Chandra Sturrup BAH 11.21
6 7 Sevatheda Fynes BAH 11.22
7 8 Debbie Ferguson BAH 11.29

Olympic Games 200m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Marion Jones USA 21.84
1 2 Pauline Davis-Thompson BAH 22.27
2 3 Susanthinka Jayasinghe SRI 22.28
3 4 Beverly McDonald JAM 22.35
4 5 Debbie Ferguson BAH 22.37
5 6 Melinda Gainsford-Taylor AUS 22.42
6 7 Cathy Freeman AUS 22.53
7 8 Zhanna Pintusevich-Block UKR 22.66

2001

World Championships 100m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
1 1 Zhanna Pintusevich-Block UKR 10.82
DQ 2 Marion Jones USA 10.85
2 3 Ekaterini Thanou GRE 10.91
3 4 Chandra Sturrup BAH 11.02
4 5 Chryste Gaines USA 11.06
5 6 Debbie Ferguson BAH 11.13
DQ 7 Kelli White USA 11.15
6 8 Mercy Nku NGR 11.17

World Championships 200m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Marion Jones USA 22.39
1 2 Debbie Ferguson BAH 22.52
DQ 3 Kelli White USA 22.56
2 4 LaTasha Jenkins USA 22.85
3 5 Cydonie Mothersill CAY 22.88
4 6 Juliet Campbell JAM 22.99
5 7 Alenka Bikar SLO 23.00
6 8 Myriam Leonie Mani CMR 23.15

2003

World Indoor Championships 60m

Place Athlete Country Time
1 Zhanna Block UKR 7.04
2 Angela Williams USA 7.16
3 Torri Edwards USA 7.17
4 Merlene Ottey SLO 7.20
5 Karin Mayr-Krifka AUT 7.23
6 Marina Kislova RUS 7.26
7 Joice Maduaka GBR 7.34
Savatheda Fynes BAH DNS

World Indoor Championships 200m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Michelle Collins USA 22.18
1 2 Muriel Hurtis-Houairi FRA 22.54
2 3 Anastasiya Kapachinskaya RUS 22.80
3 4 Juliet Campbell JAM 22.81
4 5 Cydonie Mothersill CAY 23.18
5 6 Natallia Safronnikava BLR 23.61

World Championships 100m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Kelli White USA 10.85
1 2 Torri Edwards USA 10.93
2 3 Zhanna Block UKR 10.99
3 4 Chandra Sturrup BAH 11.02
4 5 Ekaterini Thanou GRE 11.03
5 6 Christine Arron FRA 11.06
6 7 Aleen Bailey JAM 11.07
7 8 Gail Devers USA 11.11

World Championships 200m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Kelli White USA 22.05
1 2 Anastasiya Kapachinskaya RUS 22.38
2 3 Torri Edwards USA 22.47
3 4 Muriel Hurtis-Houairi FRA 22.59
4 5 Zhanna Block UKR 22.92
5 6 Beverly McDonald JAM 22.95
6 7 Natallia Safronnikava BLR 22.98
7 8 Anzhela Kravchenko UKR 23.00

2004

World Indoor Championships 200m

Corrected
place
Original
place
Athlete Country Time
DQ 1 Anastasiya Kapachinskaya RUS 22.78
1 2 Natallia Safronnikava BLR 23.13
2 3 Svetlana Goncharenko RUS 23.15
3 4 Karin Mayr-Krifka AUT 23.18
4 5 Maryna Maydanova UKR 23.64
5 6 Nataliya Pygyda UKR 23.80

6 Responses to “Meddling with medals”

  1. Kaypee says:

    The honours list is of course full of dopers. But to put Ottey there among the cheats when she was actually cleared of the charge of a steroid violation in 1999 looks rather harsh. Even though Jayasinghe was also never disqualified for a doping violation, despite two positive cases, she also figures here in red, though in her case mere technicalities helped her clear her name. And now Pintusevich looks set to join those who never tested positive but were always looked down upon.

  2. ray pickles says:

    this is the mess you get when you don't take tougher stance

  3. paulouk83 says:

    should you not make Inger Miller red?? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athl

  4. Bridget says:

    It must be depressing reading for those who ran fairly in these races. I always felt that runners
    such as Christine Arron who was one of the most elegant and natural runners of her era, perhaps
    never got the medals that their talent deserved.

  5. Cobber says:

    Part 1 – An interesting list, but unfortunately I think that anybody who thinks that any of the athletes aren't cheats is naive beyond belief. I don't mean to hurt anybody's feelings, but when I watch track and field now I just assume that they are all cheats. They would have to cheat if they want to remain competitive, and let's face it, there is quite a good deal of money involved if you are a top athlete. I think the problem mostly stems from the corruption of the governing bodies. To this day I still believe that the IAAF tried to protect Marion Jones, because she was such a big star, and was pretty much their poster girl. After all, she never officially failed a drug test, although she did have the incident of a positive A sample and a negative B sample early last decade.

  6. Cobber says:

    Part 2 – As a matter of fact, I have left all of my result lists as they were at the time of the event. That's what my videos show, and what the magazines and newspapers of the time show. We all now know beyond any doubt that every East German athlete cheated. We have documented proof. Why should Marion Jones not keep her medals but Marita Koch does? This eight year rule just proves the corruption of the IOC and the IAAF. Imagine if new evidence was discovered in a murder case, but because the murder happened over eight years ago no action was taken. It's just ridiculous! I have followed track and field for 40 years, and I find that just assuming the worst means that in essence all of the athletes are competing on a level playing field anyway. The only way I will ever have faith in the sport again is if the IOC and IAAF do the right thing and strip the GDR of their medals. That will prove they are serious. Of course this is only my opinion, but I know a lot of people who agree with it.

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