It appears American high jumper Chaunte Lowe will soon get the Olympic bronze medal she’s waited nine years for after the Court of Arbitration of Sport dismissed an appeal made by a Russian athlete whose medal was stripped recently after she was caught doping.
“As from 2015, the IOC started the re-analysis of stored samples from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 and London 2012 which led to various disciplinary proceedings,” the CAS said in a statement on Thursday. “Re-analysis of [Anna] Chicherova’s samples from Beijing 2008 resulted in a positive test for the prohibited substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol), an anabolic steroid. As a consequence of such process, Anna Chicherova has been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, in which she ranked third and was awarded the bronze medal.”
That Lowe, who originally finished sixth in the competition, is in line for the medal, however, comes as the result of two other athletes also testing positive for turinabol, fourth- and fifth-place finishers Yelena Slesarenko of Russia and Vita Palamar of Ukraine. They appear to have accepted their disqualifications, which means the International Olympic Committee only needs to officially reallocate the medal for Lowe to go on record as the winner.
For Lowe, who reacted last year to the news after the trio’s reanalysis results first became public, the news is bittersweet.
“I started crying,” she told the New York Times in November, and not just out of joy. She said she also mourned the loss of possible opportunities that may have come her way had she been recognized with all the fanfare in 2008.
“I was really young and promising at that point, and sponsors were interested in me,” Lowe, who was in her mid-twenties in 2008. “A lot of interest goes away when you don’t get on that podium.”
Lowe also posted a picture of the three athletes who ended up on the podium in 2008, including Chicherova, and lamented, “I was supposed to be in this picture” with gold medalist Tia Hellebaut of Belgium and silver medalist Blanka Vlasic of Croatia.
Hellebaut expressed her outrage over Chicherova and the other women’s doping tests last year on Twitter, and congratulated Lowe on her rightful place on the podium.
“Here comes Chaunte Lowe on the podium,” she wrote, “Doping is NOT DONE!”
The disqualifications of Chicherova, Slesarenko and Palamar account only for a small fraction of athletes caught after the IOC reordered thousands of athletes’ test samples taken during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics be reanalyzed with new technology. More than 100 athletes have tested positive since the program began in 2015, resulting in dozens of medals being reallocated.
Some Russian athletes, however, have been slow to give back their medals to the IOC, including Chicherova, who said (via Reuters) while filing her appeal last year that she would return the hardware only if her “guilt will be proven irrevocably.”
Chicherova, who won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics cleanly, has not commented since the CAS dismissed her appeal.