Anju mulls legal route after Lebedeva lands in cheat list

Anju mulls legal route after Lebedeva lands in cheat list

Anju mulls legal route after Lebedeva lands in cheat list
With another Russian Olympic medallist being confirmed as a drugs cheat, India’s long jump champion Anju George is seriously considering taking the legal route to lay claim to a medal that she feels is rightfully hers.

Tatyana Lebedeva, who was silver medallist in long jump and triple jump at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, was stripped of her medals by the International Olympic Committee after retests on her samples revealed the presence of steroid turinabol.

Lebedeva, a Russian senator now, also won silver and bronze in triple jump at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Games, besides gold in long jump at Athens, when Anju had finished sixth. The Indian champion was later elevated to fifth position after American Marion Jones, who was fifth, was disqualified for doping.

Russians had swept the medals, with Lebedeva in top spot followed by Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova. Both Simagina and Kotova later failed drug tests in subsequent competitions, with Kotova losing her gold at the 2005 World Athletics Finals in Monaco. Anju, who had won silver at the time, was elevated to the gold medal position.

The extent of Russian doping is out in the open now, with the country banned from international athletics. Anju felt that in the current circumstances, it is only right that the IOC takes a relook at the Athens results.

“I firmly believe that I deserve the silver medal from Athens. If the three Russians are disqualified, the silver will certainly come to India, behind Australia’s Bronwyn Thompson, who was fourth,” said Anju. “When the IOC reanalysed the Athens samples later, the Russians’ samples were not retested and they escaped. If it had been done then, we would have had our first Olympic medal in athletics.”

Anju had considered taking the legal route in 2013, after it emerged that both Kotova and Simagina had been caught for doping. But the plan was shelved after the lawyer they consulted didn’t offer any encouragement, considering the statute of limitations.

An eight-year statute of limitations was in place at the time (now it is ten) and it prevented a relook at the 2004 cases.

“It is clear they were doping at that time. I was in my prime at the time and was winning medals at the world level. I fully deserve that Olympic medal and I am seriously considering approaching the IOC and the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). I am sure Australia and Britain, who also will benefit if the Russians are disqualified, will support me,” said Anju, the only Indian to win a World Championship medal in athletics.

Briton Jade Johnson was sixth at Athens and she can move up to bronze position if the Russians are disqualified. Meanwhile, Lebedeva, who was an executive committee member of the World Olym­pians Association, has resigned from her position after the IOC decision.