Lynsey Sharp: European 800m champion

Scottish runner ‘broke down in floods of tears’ at the news of her promotion to European gold following the two-year ban of Yelena Arzhakova for doping

Lynsey Sharp (Mark Shearman)

It was the result that paved the way for her London 2012 Olympic journey – a personal best 800m performance of 2:00.52 in Helsinki that saw her secure silver behind Russian Yelena Arzhakova.

On Tuesday news that Arzhakova had received a two-year ban for doping broke, with messages of congratulations to Sharp on her promotion to gold spreading across the twittersphere.

But, away at a training camp in San Diego, it was Sharp’s mother Carol who called the athlete at 5am US time to break the news.

“I woke Lynsey up at 5am her time in the United States because I wanted to tell her this myself rather than her hear it elsewhere or see on the internet,” she explained.

“She just broke down in floods of tears. It is nice, yes, but there is a bit of anger there at missing out on place on top of the podium to someone who has now failed drug tests,” she added, echoing the reaction Sharp had herself given on twitter.

“It makes me sick that I was denied the opportunity to do a lap of honour and stand on the top of the podium with my national anthem playing”, she tweeted, having used the hashtags #cleansport and #drugcheatsout in a previous tweet.

Speaking later on to UKA, Sharp added: “My reaction to this news, if confirmed to be true, is a mixture of disappointment, satisfaction and elation. I’m disappointed that yet another athlete has been discovered breaking the rules of the sport in order to beat others and win medals, and I’m disappointed further that this athlete competed in the same event as me.

“However I draw satisfaction from the fact that the system is working, that the athlete in question has been caught and will serve a ban. I am elated that my effort on the track has paid off and that a clean athlete is now European Champion. It’s a happy day for me and a happy day for athletics.”

The Russian athletics federation said that Arzhakova had received a two-year ban for an “abnormal haemoglobin profile in her biological passport”.

The 23-year-old’s ban began on January 29 of this year, with any results from July 12, 2011, to be annulled. This means, as well as being promoted to European 800m gold, Sharp is also set to move up to European under-23 silver.

Scottish Athletics advised that they would be looking to hold a medal ceremony for Sharp, possibly at the governing body’s annual awards dinner in autumn.

“You always feel more than a little sorry for athletes in these circumstances – because the very nature of testing afterwards and retrospective bans means they are denied that wonderful and deserved moment of glory standing on top of the podium,” commented Nigel Holl, chief executive of Scottish Athletics.

He continued: “We would love to be involved in any formal presentation to Lynsey of a gold medal by European Athletics and make that as grand and as fitting an occasion as possible.”

The details of Arzhakova’s ban were announced along with the news that London 2012 discus silver medallist Darya Pishchalnikova has also received a suspension, but for 10 years as she failed a drugs test for the second time.

Re-testing on a sample taken from the Russian athlete in May has come back positive for the anabolic steroid oxandrolone.

The 27-year-old’s results from May 20, 2012, will be annulled, and as a result she is set to lose her Olympic medal from London.

One Response to “Lynsey Sharp: European 800m champion”

  1. Kevin O'Neill says:

    How many more stories like this will we hear? How many more are there out there that will never come to light? And how many rightful champions, not just from Britain, will never recieve their due? At least the odd wrong is righted, but it's so depressing that so many have cheated honest athletes over so many years.

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