Anju Bobby George may get silver medal for 2004 Athens Olympics

Athletics : Aus, England join fight for their rights

Anju Bobby George may get silver medal for 2004 Athens Olympics
Former long jump champions from Australia and England have joined hands with India's Anju George as they fight for their right to be named as Olympic medallists from Athens 2004.

The original medallists from Athens, Russia's Tatyana Lebedeva (gold), Irina Simagina (silver) and Tatyana Kotova (bronze) all failed dope tests in subsequent competitions. But since they didn't fail tests at Athens, they remain as medallists in the books. Their samples from the event have been destroyed while the ten-year statute of limitations is also over.

Australia's Bronwyn Thompson, who was fourth, Anju, the fifth-place winner, and Britain's Jade Johnson, who ended sixth, are claimants to gold, silver and bronze medals as they feel they had been cheated out of their rightful places by Russia's confirmed dopers.

The insidethegames website, quoting Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper, said Thompson and Johnson have decided to seek the support of their national federations in their bid to pursue their claim legally with the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Anju, the 2003 World Championships bronze medallist, has already found support from the Athletics Federation of India and the government is also expected to back her bid, given the fact that if she succeeds, the country would gain a rare Olympic medal in athletics. “It is a fight for justice, it doesn’t matter if we win or lose, we will fight for it,” Robert George, Anju’s husband, told DH.

"I am hoping Athletics Australia will support the three of us in our legal action to help build a strategy and gather evidence to build our case," Thompson, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2006, told Courier Mail.

According to the paper, Thompson's former coach Gary Bourne alleged that the Russians not testing positive in Athens was part of a conspiracy.

"We strongly believe that a massive injustice occurred in 2004 with failure of the IOC Testing laboratory in Greece to identify positive test results for these Russian medallists," Bourne told the paper.

The issue is expected to come at Athletics Australia's meeting next week.With Briton Johnson also backing the plans, Anju’s and Thompson’s efforts have received a boost. It will be interesting to see what stance the IAAF and IOC take, especially in the current context, with the lid having been blown off the massive Russian doping saga. Russia is currently barred from international athletics, after the expose and the subsequent World Anti-Doping Agency enquiry.

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