Outlawed athletes refuse to return golds

Hungarian hammer thrower Adrian Annus and Russian shot put champion Irina Korzhanenko, both gold medalists at the Athens Olympics, are refusing to hand back their medals following post-competition violations with drug test authorities. Annus has been stripped of his title for failing to take a drug test, while Korzhanenko’s win was nullified after she tested positive for a banned substance. «For me to give the medal back would mean to betray myself, to admit my guilt, but I consider myself innocent,» Korzhanenko was quoted as saying by Russian media. The 30-year-old, who won the first athletics gold of the Games at Ancient Olympia, on August 18, tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. «I didn’t steal this medal, I honestly earned it,» she told a news conference at her hometown of Rostov in southern Russia. Last week Korzhanenko said she was the victim of foul play as, she said, she had been when she picked up a previous two-year drug ban in 1999. She now faces a life ban for a second offense. «I’m 100, 200 percent sure that I’m innocent,» she said then. «I’m the Olympic champion.» The vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that Korzhanenko’s refusal to return the medal could mean sanctions against other Russian athletes. «The sanctions could be severe and concern all our track-and-field athletes,» Valery Kuzin told a news conference in Moscow. «Unless she returns the medal quickly, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) could decide to fine our federation, or worse, ban our athletes from competing in future international competitions. Consequences could be huge,» Kuzin added. Annus, the Hungarian hammer thrower stripped of his Olympic gold after failing to take a drug test, is also refusing to give back his medal. «I will not give back the medal, I regard myself as an Olympic champion,» Annus was quoted as saying by Hungarian state news agency MTI in his hometown of Szombathely. Annus was disqualified from the event after he did not meet an International Olympic Committee (IOC) deadline last Friday to submit a urine sample. Japan’s Koji Murofushi was awarded the gold medal. The 31-year-old Hungarian was dope-tested twice during the Athens Games, including after his victory in the hammer competition on August 22. Both tests were negative but the IOC called for another out-of-competition test because of suspicions that he may have used a contraption to dupe testers. The IOC said on Sunday that «an analysis of the two urine samples provided during the period of the Games showed evidence of belonging to two different athletes, indicating possible tampering.» The IOC plans to investigate further. Annus, who announced his retirement after winning the gold medal, said on Tuesday he had been contacted by lawyers offering to represent him in any legal case he might bring, but that he had not yet decided on whether he would take that course. He shared a coach with Hungary’s discus thrower Robert Fazekas, who was expelled from the Games and stripped of his gold medal for refusing to provide a complete urine sample following the final. (Reuters)

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