London 1500 stakes claim as 'dirtiest race'

Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:27pm EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - The Ben Johnson 1988 Olympic 100 meters final was dubbed "the dirtiest race in history" but there is a new contender for that dubious honor as the fallout continues from the drug-ravaged 2012 women's 1500 meters in London.

Four of the first five in the memorable Seoul showdown tested positive for banned drugs at some point in their career but no less than six of the top nine in the London 1500, including the gold and silver medallists, have served bans before or since.

Turkey's muscular powerhouse Asli Cakir Alptekin, who had already served a two-year doping suspension, crossed the line first but had the victory annulled and is serving an eight-year ban after irregularities were found in her biological passport.

Compatriot Gamze Bulut, who had improved her personal best by an eyebrow-raising 18 seconds in the previous year, finished second but was also later banned for abnormal blood levels.

Russia's Tatyana Tomashova, who had served a two-year ban up to 2010 for switching urine during a test, finished fourth.

Fifth-placed Ethiopia-born Swede and 2013 world champion Abeba Aregawi tested positive for meldonium in January this year, although had her ban was lifted in July due to a lack of clarity over the drug's properties.

Russian Ekaterina Kostetskaya (seventh) and Belarussian Natallia Kareiva (ninth), have been subsequently banned, as were two other athletes from the heats.

Briton Lisa Dobriskey finished 10th in the final and famously said afterwards: "I'll probably get into trouble for saying this but I don't believe I'm competing on a level playing field."   Continued...

Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin (R) wins gold ahead of her compatriot second placed Gamze Bulut (3rd L) and third placed Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal (C) in the women's 1500m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 10, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson