Nesterenko's victory dulled by drug crisis

Kelli White was at home in Union City, California, on Saturday night when the Olympic women's 100 metres was run. She was on standby for police protection, lest anyone should threaten the state's star witness in the case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.

Kelli White was at home in Union City, California, on Saturday night when the Olympic women's 100 metres was run. She was on standby for police protection, lest anyone should threaten the state's star witness in the case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.

It was different a year ago. White was the sensation of the world championships in Paris, blitzing to a 100m and 200m double. But then someone sent a syringe to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. It was found to contain an anabolic steroid which had been custom-designed to avoid detection.

And thus the murky underworld of track and field in the United States slowly came to light. Faced with incriminating documentary evidence, White confessed to having been fuelled by illegal pharmaceutical products: a steroid (tetrahydrogestrinone or THG), a blood booster (erythropoietin or EPO), and a stimulant (modafinil).

It has since been discovered that five of the six women's sprint medals awarded in Paris were won by athletes who have used performance-enhancing aids. And that is not to mention that the first two finishers in the women's 100m final at the Sydney Olympics - Marion Jones and Ekaterina Thanou - happen to be under scrutiny by authorities investigating possible drug use.

It was against this backdrop that the barely-heralded Yuliya Nesterenko became the new champion. Running in lane six, the tall Belarussian summoned a blistering finish in the final 40m to snatch victory from Lauryn Williams of the United States in 10.93sec.

In doing so, the 25-year-old became the first European winner of the Olympic women's 100m crown since the Russian Lyudmila Kondratyeva won on home ground in Moscow in 1980. She was superbly consistent, having won her first round heat in 10.94sec (breaking the 11-second barrier for the first time), her quarter-final in 10.99sec and her semi-final in 10.93sec.

Given that she has risen from 113th place in last year's world rankings, however, it was inevitable that first question Nesterenko faced in the aftermath of victory was about how many times she had been tested for drugs this year. "I was tested at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest in March," she replied, "and at the Golden League meeting in Rome in June. I have also been tested once out of competition."

Nesterenko did show potential in Budapest, taking the 60m bronze behind Gail Devers of the United States and the Belgian Kim Gevaert, who both exited at the semi-final stage on Saturday (as did the 44-year-old Merlene Ottey and, by one place, the rapidly improving Briton Abi Oyepitan). Inevitably, though, Nesterenko was pressed further about her emphatic improvement.

"I have changed many things," she said. "First of all, we finally got our own apartment, me and my husband. Before, we used to live with my parents. It wasn't comfortable. Secondly, I was training in a different way and tried some new things. And, most of all, I was preparing all the year thinking about the Olympics and that helped me."

But precisely what had she changed in her training? "We added a lot of weightlifting," Nesterenko said, "but I cannot give you any more details about my training."

It was inevitable, too, that the new champion was asked what she thought about so many of the leading female sprinters being absent. "Of course, I'm very, very sorry that these athletes were not able to participate," she said. "I would have liked to have competed against Ekaterina Thanou, but what can I say?"

It would have been interesting to discover what Thanou's coach, Christos Tzekos, had to say about the 641 boxes of supplements discovered in a raid by Greek government officials on his warehouse earlier in the day. The supplements all contained the banned stimulant ephedrine.

They had apparently been confiscated earlier this year - only to have found their way back into the possession of a man who has become known to his fellow Greeks as "The Chemist".

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried