Gillingham takes bronze medal

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The Independent Online
Drugs in Sport

Nick Gillingham became the first British swimmer to win a medal in three consecutive Olympic Games after the man who pipped him for bronze was found guilty of a drug offence yesterday.

Gillingham immediately called for the Russian Andrei Korneyev to be forced to hand over his 200 metres breaststroke bronze medal to him in front of a packed Olympic Stadium.

The 29-year-old from Birmingham, who finished fourth in the race, confirmed that he would be receiving the medal Korneyev was stripped of for failing a drugs test when the substance bromantan was traced. However, Gillingham is so angry that he wants the Russian to be publicly humiliated.

"It is a strange way to receive a medal and disappointing and frustrating that I won't get it over here," Gillingham said. "That's what hits home.

"They will be giving me the medal in London, but it will be two weeks before I get it. I would have liked to have it here in the Aquatic Center, where they are holding the diving, or at the main stadium. Why not?

"Korneyev should be humiliated. They should have him there in person with an IOC [International Olympic Committee] official and let him give the medal to me."

Gillingham, who announced his retirement from competitive swimming after his fourth place in the 200m breaststroke final last Wednesday, is dismayed that his event has been tarnished by the drugs revelation at his final Games.

"It's disappointing that sport isn't clean across the board, including swimming, and that this had to happen in an Olympic final in my main event," he said.

"I've been swimming over the last 11 years and it really saddens me that perhaps my event hasn't been totally clean. Perhaps my medal count might have been a different colour had everybody been 100 per cent.

"I think the sport in general is a lot cleaner than it has been. We are beating the cheats who are trying to beat the system."

However, the triple European champion urged Fina, swimming's international governing body, to increase the penalty for those like Korneyev who test positive for class one stimulants.

"I've always said that anybody who tests positive for steroids should face a life ban and life should mean life," Gillingham said. "I know this drug was a stimulant, but that can also be used as a masking agent. What else has he taken? You get a three-month ban for stimulants, but the minimum should be four years."

Korneyev, the 1995 European champion at 200m breaststroke, was one of three sportsmen found guilty of drug-taking yesterday, the first disqualifications at Atlanta, although two athletes were involved in drug cases coming into the Games.

All three of yesterday's cases tested positive for the same drug. The other two were Korneyev's compatriot, Zafar Guliyev, the Greco-Roman wrestler who won bronze in the 48kg class, and the Lithuanian cyclist Rita Raznaite, 13th in the sprint event.