Anju Bobby George believes she will be upgraded to Olympic silver medal status
14 years after finishing sixth in Athens 2004, Anju might become the first Indian track and field athlete to win an Olympic medal.
The Athletic Federation of India has finally come out in support of Indian athlete Anju Bobby George in her bid to claim the medal she missed out on. Backed by the federation, the former athlete now strongly believes that she might just end up winning the first Olympic medal for the country in track and field events.
At the 2004 Games in Athens, Anju had come sixth behind Russian trio of Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina, Tatyana Kotova, Marion Jones of the USA and Australia’s Bronwyn Thompson after she achieved her personal best of 6.83 m in the women's long jump event. Later on, Jones was stripped of her position after an alleged doping offence which pushed Anju to fifth.
Much later, in 2017, Anju, along with the two other athletes -- Thompson and Britain’s Jade Johnson -- who ended up on fourth and sixth in the event, had made a bid to claim the medals.
And, now, the athletic federations of the three countries, India, Australia and the United Kingdom, have come together and sent a unified letter to Olivier Gers, the CEO of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) requesting retesting the samples of the medallists in women's long jump in Athens.
Confirming the development to Sportskeeda, Anju said that while they have already requested for an investigation, the letter will be forwarded to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well.
"The athletic federations of India, Australia and the United Kingdom together wrote a letter to the IAAF CEO. We have requested the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to investigate the issue. The letter is already in front of the ethics commision and it will be forwarded to the IOC," Anju said over the phone.
In 2013, Tatyana Kotova was stripped of her 2005 IAAF World Athletics Final gold medal following a retesting of her 2005 samples and Anju was upgraded to gold winning status. The other two Russians, Irina Simagina and Tatyana Lebedeva have also been charged with doping and stripped off their medals from other events in the recent past.
"It is a known fact now that the Russians have been indulging in state-sponsored doping for years.The authorities did not retest the samples from the women's long jump event in the 2004 Olympics within the first eight years. This is the only event where these three Russians came first, second and third and the authorities did not bother to test the samples," said Anju.
"When they retested their samples from the other events, almost every sample came back positive. Why did they ignore this particular event then?", she asked.
If the IAAF and the IOC agree to the claim, Anju could end up winning an Olympic medal, the silver to be precise, something that eluded her throughout her career. On being asked how hopeful she i, the 40-year-old said, "We strongly believe that if their samples from the 2004 Olympics are retested, they will definitely come back positive."