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Friday, August 22, 2008
Ukrainian Blonska stripped of silver medal in heptathlon

Associated Press

BEIJING -- Lyudmila Blonska was stripped of her Olympic heptathlon silver medal Friday, the highest-profile athlete kicked out of the Beijing Games so far for doping.

The International Olympic Committee said Blonska tested positive for the steroid methyltestosterone after finishing second in the heptathlon last Saturday behind teammate Nataliia Dobrynska.

Lyudmila Blonska
The IOC has asked Lyudmila Blonska of the Ukraine to give back the silver medal she won in the Heptathlon after she failed a doping test.
Blonska was temporarily suspended by the IOC on Thursday, and her medal was officially removed Friday by the IOC executive board.

Blonska, who blamed her coach and husband for the positive test, also was dropped from Friday's long jump final after finishing third in qualifying earlier in the week. Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare advanced to the final in her place and won the bronze medal Friday.

The IOC asked the International Association of Athletics Federations to adjust the heptathlon results and consider further sanctions against Blonska.

The Ukrainian Olympic committee was ordered to return Blonska's medal "as soon as possible."

American Hyleas Fountain is in line to take the silver, with Russia's Tatiana Chernova moving from fourth to bronze.

The IOC also reserved the right to take sanctions against Blonska's coach and husband, Sergei Blonsky.

The 30-year-old Blonska faces a lifetime ban for a second doping offense. She was suspended from 2003-05 for using the steroid stanozolol.

Blonska's backup "B" sample came back positive Thursday.

The IOC said she expressed "shock" at the results and couldn't understand how the banned substance wound up in her system. Though she apologized and said she felt ashamed, Blonska blamed her husband, who has served as her coach for five years, for the failed doping test.

"She expressed that she trusted him to take care of her training and diet," the IOC said. "She indicated that they had expressly agreed that she would not take any prohibited substances. However, her relationship with her husband was currently conflictual."

Blonska's expulsion was welcomed by Carolina Kluft, the 2004 Olympic heptathlon champion who finished ninth in the long jump Friday.

"She doesn't deserve my thought," the Swede said. "I am just happy she got caught and is out of the sport forever."

Britain's Kelly Sotherton, who moves up to fourth in the heptathlon results, had complained for months that Blonska should be barred from the Olympics because of her previous doping record.

"It's great news, even if it's quite negative," she said. "It's great news for my event and the other girls, especially as there was a medal on the line and hopefully that's the last of her. I won't have to talk about her again or compete against her again."

Blonska is the biggest name among the five athletes who have tested positive so far at the games and is the second to be stripped of a medal. Previously disqualified were Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do. Kim was stripped of silver and bronze medals.

The IOC has carried out more than 4,600 doping tests so far, and the figure is expected to surpass 5,000 by the close of the games Sunday night.

Ukrainian team officials apologized for Blonska's positive test but suggested it was an "extraordinary case" because of her husband's role.

The IOC said Ukrainian officials should investigate his behavior and report back to the committee. A hearing on the case is scheduled be held in the Ukraine next Friday.