Just hours after the close of the Olympics, a female shot putter from Belarus was stripped of her gold Monday in the first case of an athlete losing a medal for doping at the London Games.
With the disqualification of Nadzeya Ostapchuk, the gold medal was awarded to Valerie Adams of New Zealand — who won gold in Beijing in 2008.
The International Olympic Committee said Ostapchuk, a former world champion, tested positive for steroids both before and after winning the shot put last week for her first Olympic gold.
After an IOC hearing, she was formally expelled from the games and had her victory and medal removed from the records. She was the eighth athlete, and first medalist, caught during the IOC’s London drug-testing program.
“Catching cheats like this sends a message to all those who dope that we will catch them,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
Track and field’s governing body, the IAAF, will consider further action against Ostapchuk, who could face a two-year ban from the sport.
Adams was bumped up from Olympic silver to gold, with Evgeniia Kolodko of Russia upgraded to silver. Fourth-place finisher Gong Lijiao of China got bronze.
“I am speechless with this news,” Adams told New Zealand’s national broadcaster TVNZ from her base in Switzerland. “It is taking me some time to take this in. It is huge and I am absolutely thrilled of course.”
The 31-year-old Ostapchuk, world champion in 2005,had the best shot put mark in a decade leading up to the Olympics. She won the gold with a mark of 70 feet, 8 inches.
The IOC said she tested positive for the steroid metenolone on Aug. 5, a day before her competition, and immediately after she won the event. The “A” and the backup “B” samples from both tests came back positive.
Ostapchuk told media in Belarus that she had done nothing wrong.
“I do not understand where it could come from,” she told internet news agency Noviny.by. “I’m looking like an idiot to take this in heading for the games and knowing that it is so easy to be tested. Nonsense.
“I’ve been in the sports for so many years and have never faced any claims. And now at the major event and after the gold medal … I do not understand it.”
Now that the London Games are over, Olympic Park is eerily deserted. The main stadium is blocked off by metal barriers, concession stands are closed, and the world’s biggest McDonald’s is empty. Small groups of construction workers are working to transform the venues for use in the Paralympic Games, which begin Aug. 29.
The Olympic Park had been visited by more than 5 million people over the 17- day run of the Olympics.
It will be closed to the public until the Paralympics — and for almost a year afterwards, while some venues are torn down and others are modified. It will open in stages from next summer as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Members of the Japan women’s soccer team, returning to Tokyo, got upgraded to business class after winning a silver medal in London.
Japan’s world champion women’s team took exception to flying in economy class while their male counterparts sat in business class en route to the games.
The Japan Football Association said the women’s team sat in business on the way home because they medaled.
Japan lost to the U.S. team, 2-1, in the gold medal game.
AMERICANS TUNED IN
The London Games drew better ratings than Beijing in 2008, making them the most watched television event in U.S. history, NBC said.
Total viewership topped the 215 million that tuned in to the Beijing Games four years ago, Greg Hughes, a spokesman for Comcast’s NBCUniversal division, said in an email.
The performances of American athletes, who won a world-best 46 gold medals and 104 total, helped drive ratings, said Andy Donchin, director of media investments for Carat North America, an advertising firm.