British javelin thrower Goldie Sayers and Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk were today given the opportunity to share how they were finally awarded their rightful Olympic medals after their fellow competitors were disqualified following anti-doping rules violations.
Talking at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport currently taking place in Katowice, Poland, the two athletes explained how they benefited from the medal reallocation programme originally proposed by the IOC Athletes’ Commission and approved by the IOC Executive Board in May 2018.
Introducing the athletes on stage, Olympic medallist, IOC Member and member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and the WADA Foundation Board Danka Bartekova said: “It’s very moving to see that these athletes have finally been recognised for their Olympic achievements. Their stories have inspired and continue to inspire many people around the world. Now that justice is served, it is fantastic to see that clean athletes are honoured and celebrated in a meaningful way.”
Proposed by the IOC Athletes' Commission, the Olympic Medal Reallocation Ceremony Principles provide athletes with six options to receive their medal(s) to celebrate their achievements: at the next edition of the Olympic Games; at the Youth Olympic Games; at the IOC headquarters or The Olympic Museum; at an event of their International Sports Federation; at an event of their National Olympic Committee; or at a private ceremony.
Team GB Olympian Sayers started practising the sport of javelin at the age of 16. After qualifying for and competing in three Olympic Games, her best finish was fourth at Beijing 2008. But after the reanalysis of doping samples and the subsequent disqualification of competitors, she moved up the ranking to receive her rightful bronze medal.
“Sport has definitely shaped me as a person. It has taught me that you can achieve a lot more than you can imagine. When I was being presented with the medal in London, I stood at the back of the podium and said to myself ‘just take it all in, take it all in’, and then I got really, really emotional. Receiving my medal the way I did was, of course, not how I dreamed it would be, but it is important that athletes receive justice, no matter how long that takes,” said Sayers at the Conference.
“It’s a great privilege to give an athlete’s perspective on the medal re-allocation process and what it means to have justice finally served. Anti-doping authorities have a great responsibility to serve clean athletes and uphold the integrity of clean sport, as the dreams of athletes (and aspiring athletes) should never be impacted by those who dope. The retesting programme is an important aspect of anti-doping, and I want to thank all those dedicated people who work hard for clean sport, people who made it possible for this to happen,” she added.
Polish hammer thrower Wlodarczyk is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion and the first woman in history to throw the hammer over 80m. She currently holds the women's world record of 82.98m. She is considered the greatest women’s hammer thrower of all time. At the Olympic Games London 2012 she won the silver medal with a throw of 77.60m. In October 2016, she was retroactively awarded gold after the athlete who originally ranked first was stripped of her medal after testing positive in a reanalysis of her stored doping samples.
Describing her experience, Wlodarczyk said: “At the time, in 2012, when I came second at the London Olympics, I was very happy because my biggest dream was to win an Olympic medal. I remember every detail of the ceremony and I was very proud to win a medal for Poland. But five years later, I received the news that the athlete who came first was caught for doping through re-testing. The IOC informed me of the official decision and asked me where and when I would like to receive the gold.”
“It was such a thrill, and I was very happy to receive the medal here in Poland during a special gala celebration of the centenary of the Polish Olympic Committee. It meant a lot to me. I am very happy to have two gold Olympic medals now and to be Olympic champion in my sport. Ultimately, it is the clean athletes who are cheated when people take performance-enhancing drugs. I heard today at the World Conference about new methods of doping control and I am very happy that WADA is helping to protect athletes and always looking to improve the system,” Wlodarczyk outlined.
Although the athletes said that their ceremony could not exactly replace one at the Olympic Games, both recognised that this was a great step forward and a clear outcome of a strengthened anti-doping system whereby samples can now be frozen, stored and re-analysed for 10 years.
More testimonials from athletes sharing their emotional and inspirational journeys through the Olympic medal reallocation process will be available through the Olympic Channel original series Take The Podium.The six-episode series premieres worldwide today on the Olympic Channel global digital platform, and will be available at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on connected TV devices.