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Beijing 08
Blonska to face doping probe
The Ukrainian heptathlete faces an IOC investigation after a positive doping test.
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2008 12:52 GMT

Liudmyla Blonska's medal has no been thrown into doubt [GALLO/GETTY]
Ukraine's Lyudmila Blonska is under investigation for a positive doping test and could be stripped of her silver medal in the Olympic heptathlon and banned for life.

The International Olympic Committee said it has opened a disciplinary procedure into Blonska, who finished second behind fellow Ukrainian Nataliia Dobrynska last Saturday.

The IOC disciplinary commission and executive board are expected to rule on the case Thursday, and if confirmed Blonska would become a repeat offender and kicked out of the sport forever.

The 30-year-old Ukrainian served a doping suspension for the steroid Stanozolol between 2003-05.

If the second sample proves positive Thursday "she will be suspended for life,'' Lamine Diack, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said.

"Over and done with. And we go on.''

No doubts over Bolt

The announcement came only hours ahead of Usain Bolt's attempt to clinch a 100-200 sprint double at the Bird's Nest, one of the highlights of the track program.

Diack insisted that Bolt's performance and the three world records set so far on the track would outshine any positive tests.

"This will not spoil the games. It will spoil nothing. If Blonska testing positive would ruin the games, that would kill us,'' Diack said.

"These things happen. there are 2000 athletes here,'' he added.

"It is not because Blonska is doped that we scrap Bolt. That would kill us.''

Diack said he had been notified of the positive result by Gabriel Dolle, the director of the IAAF's medical and anti-doping department.

"Only on my way here, Dolle phoned me to say this athlete tested positive. The process is under way.''

Blonska is also competing in the long jump and was third in qualifying ahead of Friday's final.

Her place in that event is now in jeopardy.

The third-place finisher in the heptathlon was American Hyleas Fountain, who would be bumped up to the silver if Blonska is disqualified.

Russia's Tatiana Chernova would move up from fourth to the bronze.

Blonska won the silver medal in the heptathlon at last year's world championships in Osaka, Japan, and took gold in the pentathlon at the 2006 world indoors in Moscow.

Kelly Sotherton has long protested against Blonska's presence [GALLO/GETTY]
GB's Sotherton 'pleased'

British athlete Kelly Sotherton, who finished fifth in the Olympic heptathlon, complained publicly for months that Blonska shouldn't be allowed to compete in Beijing because of her doping past.

"I'm pleased her teammate beat her,'' Sotherton said last Saturday.

"That makes it bittersweet. I'd have been really upset if she'd won gold. The penalty you should pay if you take drugs is not to compete at the Olympics.''

Four athletes have been disqualified and kicked out of the games so far for positive drug tests, Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do.

Earlier Wednesday, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said a total of 4,133 tests had been conducted so far, including more than 3,290 urine controls and 840 blood screenings.

Rigourous testing

By the end of the games Sunday, the IOC will have carried out between 4,500 to 5,000 doping tests in Beijing, up from 3,600 in Athens four years ago.

Davies said 39 athletes had been caught ahead of the games in testing by international sports federations and anti-doping organizations.

"The IOC was very clear in the lead-up we would work in concert with all the anti-doping bodies,'' she said.

"We feel the deterrent effect plays a part in what we see here. The athletes know the IOC means business.''

Because of the spate of high-profile doping scandals in recent years, there is intense media and public interest in the test results from marquee Olympic events, especially the men's 100 meters.

Davies said she didn't know whether all tests had come back clean from Saturday's final in which Bolt won the gold medal in a world record time of
9.69 seconds.

Davies said she wasn't privy to results from specific tests or events, noting 300 to 350 samples are being analyzed each day.

Normally, it takes 24 hours for a negative test to be confirmed, 48 hours for positive tests for steroids, and 72 hours for positive results for the blood-booster EPO.

Source:
Agencies
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