/ Athletics

Olive Loughnane and Robert Heffernan to receive major medals and justice

Updated: Thursday, 24 Mar 2016 17:34 | Comments

Olive Loughnane will receive a medal upgrade after the CAS verdict
Olive Loughnane will receive a medal upgrade after the CAS verdict

Ireland's Olive Loughnane will become a world champion, while Robert Heffernan will be awarded an Olympic bronze medal after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld six appeals today filed by the IAAF against Russian athletes.

Olga Kaniskina originally won gold in the women's 20km walk at the World Championships in Berlin in August 2009, with Loughnane finishing second.

However, the CAS verdict means the now-retired Irish athlete will become the country's fourth world champion, joining an elite club comprising of Eamonn Coghlan, Sonia O'Sullivan and fellow walker Heffernan.

Sergey Kirdyapkin crossed the line first in the 50km walk at the London Games in 2012, while Heffernan finished fourth, but Kirdyapkin's disqualification will see the Cork star awarded an Olympic bronze medal. 

That upgrade means that the London Games are now Ireland's most most successful ever, bringing the medal tally to six - one more than the five won at Melbourne in 1956.

“The appeals concern one element of decisions issued by the disciplinary committee of the Russian Anti-doping Agency (RUSADA) in anti-doping cases brought against the athletes, based on irregularities observed in the athletes’ biological passports,” read the CAS statement.

“The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) claimed that RUSADA had incorrectly applied the applicable anti-doping rules adopted by IAAF (the “IAAF ADR”) to implement the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code with respect to the disqualification of competitive results (disqualification of results split in different periods).

"The IAAF challenged what it felt was a “selective” disqualification of results, submitting that all results achieved by the athletes from the date of their first abnormal sample to the date they accepted a provisional suspension should be disqualified.”

Speaking to Today FM, Heffernan said: "I'm buzzing. I got a generic email off the CAS (containing the judgement).

"I had to read it a few times just in case I made a mistake. That makes me an Olympic bronze medallist and it's unreal."

The 38-year-old knew he could be nudged up to third place as the investigation into Kirdyapkin progressed.

He added: "It's been dragging on and people in Cork have been coming up and congratulating me on being a new Olympic medallist. A lot of people were congratulating me on the gold and I never bothered correcting them.

"I was half living the lie. I was trying to believe it myself. Now that it's made official, I didn't know how I'd feel about it. I'm delighted, I'm over the moon, it's unreal.

"It's something that as long as I've been doing sport and as a kid I've been dreaming of, winning an Olympic medal, and now to have one it's hard to take in."

Russia could be banned from athletics at the Rio Olympics over the doping scandal and state-sponsored corruption that has engulfed the sport in the country.

Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey congratulated Heffernan on finally getting his Olympic medal.

“Justice has been done for Rob and we are delighted that he will finally get his hands on the bronze medal he rightfully deserves from London 2012," said Hickey.

"The OCI and Athletics Ireland are working together to ensure that the medal is in Rob's possession as quickly as possible so he can focus on training for Rio 2016"

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