Loughnane a World Champion, Hope for Heffernan, as Russians get Busted
Ireland has a new world champion; Olive Loughnane looks set to be awarded the gold medal from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin after Russia’s Olga Kaniskina was banned this morning by the Russian Anti-doping Agency for an anti-doping rule violation.
Kaniskina, who turned 30 yesterday, was a three-time world champion and Olympic champion in 2008, but will now serve a three-year, two-month ban, which has been backdated to October 15th, 2012. Her results from July 15th, 2009 to September 16, 2009 and from July 30th 2011 to November 8th, 2011 will now be annulled, which will see her lose out on two of her three world titles.
Kaniskina has been a long-time member of the notorious Russian walking group in Saransk, led by Viktor Chegin, who was the subject of an online campaign among the race-walking community as competitors lobbied the International Association of Athletics Federations to officially ban him due to the number of athletes under his guidance who have tested positive.
Hope for Heffernan; Olympic bronze may be on the horizon
Also suspended this morning were 2012 Olympic champion over 50K, Sergey Kirdyapkin, and 2010 European bronze medalist, Sergey Bakulin. In both events, Ireland’s Rob Heffernan finished fourth.
The bad news for the Cork athlete, though, is that it looks doubtful that he will be upgraded to bronze in either event. Kirdyapkin’s three-year, two-month suspension was backdated to October 15th, 2012, with his results annulled only from the following periods: January 25th, 2011 to March 25, 2011, from June 16, 2011 to August 16, 2011, and from April 11, 2012 to June 11, 2012.
There is, however, hope for Heffernan. All decisions by national anti-doping bodies must be ratified by the IAAF before they are made official, and it seems highly unlikely the governing body of the sport will accept the decision of the Russians to annul the results of Kirdyapkin, Kaniskina and Bakulin for periods of doping before the Olympic Games, and ban them shortly after, without actually affecting the results at the Games themselves, where they helped contribute to Russia’s overall medal tally.
Last month, Heffernan spoke strongly to JumpingTheGun about having to compete against athletes he held suspicions about, and the Cork man felt he had lost out on more than just medals due to several of his competitors cheating. “There is a bit [of bitterness],” he said. “Commercially, you can lose out on a lot of money, funding-wise, support-wise, because a medal is different to fourth. If you have a medal, so much more can be done, and you often make a livelihood out of it. If you don’t have the money to support a proper structure, you can’t train like a full-time athlete, and if you can’t do that you’re not going to be able to compete with the best in the world.
“I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about the Russian doping story, but it doesn’t shock me,” says Heffernan. “For me, it’s wrong and I hope they all get caught and I get another medal from Barcelona, a medal from the Olympics, but I kind of don’t want to know about it because I know if I can do what I did I London, do what I did in Moscow, that I can still be up there mixing with the medals.”