Sunday, August 22, 2004
Updated: August 23, 7:57 AM ET
Steroid detected also cost Johnson gold in '88
ATHENS, Greece -- It was a defining and uplifting moment at
the Summer Games -- women competing at Ancient Olympia for the first
time in history. Then along came a modern-day scourge -- drugs.
A Russian shot putter tested positive for steroids after winning
the first women's gold medal at the hallowed site where the
Olympics were born in 776 B.C., international and Russian officials
In the latest doping scandal to hit the games, Irina Korzhanenko
could be stripped of the gold and sent home in disgrace.
"Nobody can believe that this is actually happening," Russian
Olympic Committee spokesman Gennady Shvets said.
News of Korzhanenko's positive test came on the same day a Greek
weightlifter, Leonidas Sampanis, became the first athlete of the
Athens Games to be stripped of a medal for a doping offense.
Sampanis lost his bronze medal in the 137-pound (62kg) category
after testing positive for testosterone.
So far, nine weightlifters have failed drug tests. A Kenyan
boxer was also sent home for using drugs. With a week left in the
games, including track and field events, more positives were
"The testing is more extensive and more comprehensive, so you'd
expect we would catch more athletes that are cheating," Dick
Pound, the World Anti-Doping Agency chief, told The Associated
Press. "It increases the confidence in the authenticity of the
competition if we are taking people out who cheated.
"I think drawing attention to this problem is good. If you have
a games where you catch a lot of people, that's fine. That's the
message we want to send: If you want to cheat, don't come here."
Referring to the high number of positives in weightlifting,
Pound said WADA and the IOC should put pressure on the
international federation to act. The federation says it is cracking
down, weeding out cheaters before they compete.
Korzhanenko, who served a previous two-year drug suspension,
tested positive for stanozolol after Wednesday's competition,
Shvets said. Stanozolol is the same steroid that cost Canadian
sprinter Ben Johnson his gold medal in the 100 meters at the 1988
Korzhanenko's backup sample also came back positive, the Russian
committee said. The positive test was also confirmed by two senior
International Olympic Committee officials, who spoke on condition
Korzhanenko, 30, will face a hearing before an IOC disciplinary
commission. If found guilty, she would be disqualified and expelled
from the games by the IOC executive board.
The gold would go to Cuba's Yumileidi Cumba Jay. Germany's
Nadine Kleinert would move up to silver, and Russia's Svetlana
Krivelyova to bronze.
The shot put was held at Ancient Olympia, about 200 miles
southwest of Athens, two days before the start of track and field
in Olympic Stadium. It was the first time women have competed at
the site; the ancient Olympics were for men only.
"It shows that you can't go to Ancient Olympia and screw around
and expect to get away with it," Pound said.
Korzhanenko won with a throw of 69 feet, 1¼ (21.06 meters) -- the
first throw over 21 meters in four years.
Another female shot putter, Uzbekistan's Olga Shchukina, tested
positive in a pre-event screening for the steroid clenbuterol. She
finished 19th and last in her qualifying group and was expelled
from the games Friday.
In 1999, Korzhanenko was stripped of the silver medal at the
world indoor championships for a doping violation, and she was
given a two-year suspension that kept her out of the 2000 Sydney