Meadows wins silver medal... seven years later

Jenny Meadows (right) finishing third at the European Championships
Jenny Meadows (right) finishing third at the European Championships
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Jenny Meadows has received another medal upgrade - seven years after the race.

The Wigan Harrier will get a belated silver medal from the 2010 European Championships after winner Mariya Savinova-Farnosova was found guilty of doping.

The Russian, better known by her maiden name of Savinova, has been given a four-year doping ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and been stripped of her London 2012 800 metres gold.

The 31-year-old also loses her 2011 world outdoor title, 2013 world silver medal, as well as her 2010 European gold.

Savinova’s Olympic gold and 2011 world title now go to South Africa’s Caster Semenya, making her a double Olympic champion, while Britain’s Jenny Meadows’ European bronze is upgraded to silver.

In a press release, CAS said there was “clear evidence” Savinova had been doping from July 2010, just before the European Championships, to the 2013 World Championships in August.

I’ve got a gold from the European Indoors and I have no affinity with it

Jenny Meadows, speaking last year

“As a consequence, a four-year period of ineligibility, beginning on 24 August 2015, has been imposed and all results achieved by her between 26 July 2010 and 19 August 2013, are disqualified and any prizes, medals, prize and appearance money forfeited,” CAS added.

Unfortunately for Meadows, so often a victim of cheats during her career, Savinova keeps the 2010 world indoor title she narrowly beat the British runner to as that race was in March, four months before the European championships.

Meadows has already had one upgrade during her career - silver from the 2011 European Indoor Championships was replaced with gold years later.

There are other medals which are the wrong colour, and many finals she didn’t reach because of drugs cheats.

Her and coach, and husband, Trevor Painter estimate they have lost out on prize money totalling six figures.

“I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I think I’d have been diagonsed with being depressed, on some scale, because of the whole situation and what it cost,” she said when she retired from the sport last summer

“I’ve got a gold from the European Indoors, and I have no affinity with it,” she continued. “It’s not the one from the day. These athletes who dope, they rob others of memories. That’s the hardest thing.

“I tore myself up for not being good enough for reaching a World Championships final, and it’s only afterwards we know some people tested positive (for banned substances).”

Savinova joins a long list of Russian athletes who have been punished for their part in the country’s state-sponsored doping programme.

All three of the Russian women who made the 800 metres final at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu - Ekaterina Kostetskaya, Yuliya Rusanova and Savinova - have now been disqualified, having robbed Meadows of a place in the final. Meadows ran the ninth fastest time of the semi-finals to miss out on qualification by one spot.

Savinova beat Semenya that day in a thrilling race, setting a personal and 2011 best of 1.55.87.

Savinova’s victory over Semenya at London 2012 was more convincing but she now joins compatriot Elena Arzhakova in being disqualified from the final and a third Russian, Ekaterina Poistogova, who finished third on the day, is facing her own suspension after the World Anti-Doping Agency recommended a ban in 2015.

Redistributing those medals will be far easier than reclaiming the huge amounts of money Savinova and her fellow cheats won in Diamond League meetings, not to mention the loss of earnings suffered by clean athletes who failed to meet targets set by their national associations or personal sponsors.

Earlier this week, world athletics’ governing body the IAAF confirmed the global competition ban it imposed on Russia in November 2015 will not be lifted until this November at the earliest. That means any Russians who pass the IAAF’s strict eligibility criteria for this summer’s World Championships in London will have to compete as neutral athletes.

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