Willis’s move over the last straightaway in Beijing garnered him a well earned bronze. Ramzi’s positive for CERA, if the B test is positive on June 8, could garner Willis a move from bronze to silver! Photo above from Photorun.net.
Story below from Athletics International by Peter Matthews and Mel Watman:
RAMZI SET TO LOSE OLYMPIC TITLE
Assuming the B sample (to be tested in France on June 8) confirms the result of the A sample, Bahrain’s Moroccan-born Rashid Ramzi will be stripped of the Olympic 1500m title. It was revealed last week that the IOC’s retesting of 948 samples taken in Beijing has led to six competitors, three from athletics, testing positive for the new blood-boosting drug CERA. The others, as named by news agencies, are walker Athanasia TsoumelÃ©ka (the 2004 Olympic 20k champion) who placed 9th in what would have been a Greek record of 1:27:54 (she had already received a 2-year ban due to a positive test for EPO on Aug 6, 2008) and Croatian 800m runner Vanja Perisic, who placed 6th in her heat in 2:06.82.
Then known as Rashid Khoula, Ramzi was a 1500m silver medalist for Morocco at the 1999 African Junior Champs. He moved to Bahrain at the end of 2001 and gained citizenship on joining the armed forces, winning the Asian Games 1500m title in 2002 for his new country. He made a massive improvement in 2004, cutting his 1500m pb from 3:39.30 to an Asian record of 3:30.25, while the following year he became the first man since Peter Snell in 1964 to land a global 800m/1500m double. Covering the final 700m in 1:34.10 (1:47.55 800m pace), he took the 1500m in 3:37.88 and four days later created a major sensation by beating Yuriy Borzakovskiy over 800m in a pb of 1:44.24. Leading up to the Worlds he had contested only two races on the European circuit: winning in Lausanne (1:44.73) and Rome (3:30.00). He progressed slightly to 1:44.05 and 3:29.14 in 2006, while at the 2007 World Champs â€“ in his first 1500m contest of the season and reportedly short of training after injury â€“ he placed 2nd to Bernard Lagat (3:34.77) in 3:35.00, having been boxed in at a crucial moment. Again in 2008 he was very lightly raced before taking the gold medal in Beijing in 3:32.94 with a 52.9 last lap which included a 12.5 100m between 1300 and 1400m. After placing an undistinguished 5th in the World Indoors he did not race again at 1500m prior to the Olympics, preparing instead with an 8:13.16 2M and 13:10.72 5000m. In Beijing he ran the fastest ever heat time of 3:32.89.
Although he represents Bahrain, Ramzi has retained his Moroccan passport and trains in his native land under coach Khalid Boulami, the 1996 Olympic 5000m bronze medallist and twice a World Champs silver medallist.
This statement was issued from Bahrain on Apr 29: “The Bahrain Olympic Committee apologises for receiving such news from the International Olympic Committee since it ensured Ramzi went through all the necessary doping tests before the Games and they were all negat-ive.’â€ The world governing body stated: “The IAAF would like to commend the IOC for their efforts in the storage and re-analysis of samples and for their co-ordination with the IAAF in this process. This step shows that athletes who cheat can never be comfortable that they will avoid detection and sends a strong message of deterrence.”
Lord (Sebastian) Coe, the Olympic 1500m champion in 1980 and 1984, commented: “It’s abhorrent whenever there is a positive test but I think anyone who ran at our distance will find this a pretty disfiguring moment. But we have caught him out, that’s the important thing. There is some cause for optimism because — and this is no idle threat — we are now much smarter about how to catch these people. And for those athletes we have our sus-picions about the message is very clear: we will get you.”
Asbel Kiprop: “It’s interesting to learn that I could be an Olympic champion but that is not the way I wanted to be a gold medallist. It means more to win on the track in the natural way but I will wait for the final verdict. I ran my best during that final and losing to Ramzi was painful. I was training to make amends at the World Champion-ships but to learn that I lost to a runner who cheated makes me very unhappy.”
Ramzi will face an IOC hearing on June 8 and if found guilty of the doping offense he would be disqualified and banned for two years as well as being rendered ineligible to compete in the 2012 Olympics. If that should be the case then the Olympic title would be awarded to Asbel Kiprop of Kenya (a junior at the time) with Nick Willis (NZL) moving up to second and Mehdi Baala (FRA) taking the bronze.
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Story above Â© ATHLETICS INTERNATIONAL 2009
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