London Eye: Heard about the Olympic 100m final no one won?

 

It has been a week of revelations for track and field Olympians past and present. First came reports that Teddy Tamgho, one of Phillips Idowu's principal rivals for the Olympic triple-jump crown in 2012, had been banned for six months by the French Athletics Federation for an unseemly altercation with an unnamed female athlete at a national training camp. Then Kajsa Bergkvist, the retired Olympic high-jump champion of 2004, caused a stir in Sweden by telling QX magazine that she was a lesbian.

The most intriguing news, however, emerged yesterday from Ukraine. It was hardly the greatest of surprises but its significance could not be overlooked in the countdown to a new Olympic year, as yet another belated doping conviction cast a retrospective shadow on major sprint races that refuse to lie untainted, not to mention unaltered, in the recent history books of the main Olympic sport.

The Ukrainian Athletics Federation announced it was giving Zhanna Block a two-year ban for breaking anti-doping rules in 2002 and 2003. The former rival of Marion Jones had been under investigation by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the Ukrainians since Mark Block, her husband, coach and agent, was given a 10-year ban by a US anti-doping arbitration panel in March after being found guilty of trafficking drugs supplied by Victor Conte's Balco laboratory and giving banned substances to his wife.

In practical terms, it is a token punishment. Zhanna Block is 39 and has been retired since 2006. Nonetheless, confirmation that the speed merchant with the tree-trunk thighs was powered by other than natural means is likely to prompt another revision of the women's 100m final at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.

The result has already been amended to disqualify the original winner, the American Kelli White having been the first athlete unmasked as a cheat in the Balco scandal. Block was promoted from bronze to silver – behind Torri Edwards, an American who tested positive for a banned substance in 2004 but whose 2003 runs were not deemed questionable.

Block's achievements from 2002 and 2003 now stand to be struck from the record books, which puts Chandra Sturrup of the Bahamas in line for an upgrade from third to second and Katerina Thanou in line for promotion from fourth to third. The ruling body, the IAAF, was unavailable to comment yesterday but the prospect of the retired Thanou receiving a medal would be an ironic twist indeed.

Last May Thanou and former training partner Kostas Kenteris were convicted of perjury by a Greek court, relating to an alleged motorbike accident after they fled the Athletes' Village and a drug- testing team on the eve of the 2004 Athens Olympics. The pair were cleared on appeal in September.

Thanou finished second to Jones in the Olympic women's 100m final in Sydney in 2000 but, since disqualifying the American in 2009, the International Olympic Committee has pointedly refused to declare the Greek as the winner.

Block finished fifth in that race, under her maiden name, Pintusevich. She moved up to fourth after Jones' disqualification. Her punishment this week means that four of the first five finishers in that race have now fallen foul of anti-doping laws at some stage of their careers, or in retirement. Merlene Ottey, who placed fourth originally, was given a ban in 1999 that was subsequently overturned by the IAAF.

Eleven years on, officially there is no winner of the ghost race in Sydney.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones