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Linet Masai upgraded to bronze after Turk caught cheating

The 2009 world 10,000 metres champion Linet Masai is disappointed that she will be getting her 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medal nine years after a doping cheat ruined her moment of glory.

Masai now wants the authorities concerned to invest in systems that will burst doping cheats on time besides compensating the affected athletes accordingly.

Masai, who finished fourth, at the 2008 Olympics was upgraded to the bronze medal position after Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse, who won silver medals in the 5,000m and 10,000m, tested positive for a banned steroid in a retest of a 2007 doping sample.

While Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba gets to retain her gold medal, Shalane Flanagan, who won bronze, was upgraded for silver, giving Masai the bronze.

Flanagan received an Olympic silver medal on Monday, nine years overdue, having declined a make-up medal ceremony.

That happened five months after it was announced that the original silver medallist Abeylegesse had tested positive for a banned steroid.

Dibaba won the race in an Olympic and Africa record time of 29 minutes and 54.66 seconds as Flanagan returned an American Record time of 30:22.22 with Masai clocking a world junior and national record time of 30:26.50.

Masai will be the second Kenyan to get a medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics over doping.

Three times world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop received the metric mile race gold medal after Rashid Ramzi from Bahrain was stripped off for doping.
Just like Flanagan, Masai said it will be useless to get a high profiled ceremony while receiving the bronze medal.

“I will be glad to receive the medal but without any pomp since it will be of no use really,” said Masai adding that it beats logic that the cheat was busted nine years later. I am still happy to go down in history as the first Kenyan woman to win a medal in 10,000m at the Olympics,” said Masai.

, who wondered how many athletes could have cheated over the period without getting noticed.

“It’s just bad for the sport especially when it comes after almost a decade,” said Masai, who called for stiffer punishment for doping offenders.

“Anybody caught to have doped intentionally must be banned from championship races and a second offence should count for life ban from athletics and possible jail term,” said Masai in relation to the new World 100m champion Justin Gatlin, who was previously reprimanded twice for doping.
Masai said penalties of up to Sh 3 million for offenders are stipulated in Kenya’s new doping laws are lenient.

Gatlin became a villain of London 2017 when he was booed by the 56,000-strong crowd at the Olympic Stadium after beating Usain Bolt in the Jamaican’s final 100m race.

Masai, who has taken a maternity leave to take care of her six months old baby Victoria Chepkoech said she is looking forward to return late next year. “I will be moving to road races and hopefully target the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon,” said the 27-year-old, who won bronze in 10,000m at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu. 

Flanagan said in a USA Track and Field press release that receiving her proper medal and having the record books changed was a dream come true.

“I greatly appreciate the USOC’s efforts to host a more formal medal ceremony in my honour, but with my coach and my family, I have decided to forego that option and instead celebrate in private. This news, and receiving my medal, are all that I need to feel incredibly fulfilled and happy.”

Flanagan, 36, has concentrated on the marathon in the years since her 2008 Olympic campaign.

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